The increasing resistance to antibiotics requires solutions from the medical technology industry. In her guest article, health expert Agnieszka Mierzejewska explains the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and how they can be combated in the future.

It is the global health challenges in particular that have a significant impact on social life. The best example is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has now been shaping our everyday lives for more than two years. This crisis has also shown us that there is more than one recipe, more than one way out of the crisis.

Rather, it takes a whole range of experts from various disciplines to find the right answers to such challenges. Above all, solutions and approaches to global health challenges are expected from the MedTech (“medical technology”) industry.

Agnieszka Mierzejewska (born 1982) has worked for aap since 2014 and has been a member of the Management Board / COO since 2021. Before joining aap, Mierzejewska had already held various operational positions at medical technology and patient care companies. Mierzejewska holds a Masters in Health Economics and Health Management.

One of these challenges is the worldwide increase in antibiotic resistance, which the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared a global “silent pandemic”. Antibiotic-resistant pathogens no longer react to many of the common antibiotics, so that they cannot be destroyed in the course of antibiotic therapy. The hospital germ methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the best-known representatives. This was responsible for 100,000 deaths worldwide in 2019 alone (study by the journal “The Lancet”) and is considered to be particularly resistant to antibiotics.

Surgeries in particular are a source of danger for possible infections with pathogenic bacteria, germs and fungi. Infections after surgical interventions cause considerable costs for the healthcare system. According to the WHO, surgical-related infections have resulted in 406,730 additional hospital days and more than $900 million in hospital costs in the United States alone. In Europe, the economic costs caused are between 1.47 and 19.1 billion euros.

Surgical treatments are also relevant here, in which the insertion of implants or foreign materials increases the risk of a so-called biofilm forming on their surface, which can lead to serious infections.

Solutions are therefore required that address the problem directly in the context of their application and also have a wide range of applications. According to Next Science, bacterial infections are expected to kill more people than cancer by 2050.

These numbers are frightening and have prompted numerous companies to delve deeper into this “silent pandemic” and to bring answers to the market to combat it. But what do such solutions look like?

In the EU and the USA, the competition for the best solution with a wide range of applications has long since begun. In Germany, too, the first companies are working on technologies that address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Medium-sized companies in particular often provide the right answers to such health challenges.

In Germany in particular, the medical technology sector is characterized by medium-sized companies. Here around 150,000 employees in more than 1,400 companies generate a total turnover of 33.3 billion euros. Almost 93 percent of the companies have fewer than 250 employees. In terms of industry turnover, Germany is thus far ahead of other countries in the EU, such as France or Italy, which come in second and third place, each generating turnover of 13 billion euros.

The more global and comprehensive a problem, the higher the demands on the solution approaches of the MedTech industry. Competition, cost pressure, supply chain problems and the increasing regulatory requirements are currently putting the industry and thus also its supporting medium-sized companies under strong pressure. Nevertheless, it is precisely in the great global challenges that there is an opportunity to defend the strong position of the German MedTech industry through innovations and to help shape the future worldwide. It will therefore be exciting to see how medical technology will take its and our future into its own hands and find answers to global health challenges through innovative developments.

*for the sake of simplicity, around 11,840 companies with fewer than 20 employees per company are not included; Small businesses generate another almost 10 billion euros with 80,000 other employees.

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