Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

BIOtech Now
Andrew Segerman

Here’s a statistic you might not have known: an estimated 700,000 people die each year due to the growing number of infections resistant to treatment. Known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), this “silent killer” and looming public health threat has severe social and economic consequences that could have a lasting impact on families, individuals and communities across the globe.

Writing for Life Science Leader, Thomas Cueni, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) points out that while the United Nations and the World Health Organization recognize AMR as serious concern, it is not as visible as other epidemics, which explains why the general public is often unaware of the issue at hand.

“AMR does not have the recognizable “face” of disaster. It is not a train crash, an ecological disaster, or a disease epidemic such as Ebola or Zika scaring all of us. It is more of a silent killer,” Cueni notes.

“People only fully realize its consequences when they or a member of their family suffer from a bacterial infection which proves resistant to treatment.  From a health community perspective, AMR has crept up on us over a period of time where we perhaps complacently believed we had effectively dealt with any number of established diseases and could now save our attention for a few new ones.”

And from a dollars and cents point-of-view, AMR could have a crippling effect on the global economy and in local communities who might not have the means to combat such an epidemic. As Cueni explains:

“The economic impact of AMR is huge — estimates are of $100 trillion lower GDP on a global level. Given these figures, it is actually quite astounding that the emerging consensus on the need for sustainable pull incentives to encourage long-term investment in AMR R&D has not moved from talk to action. Progress on this front is urgent. There is need for open-minded conversations amongst all of the key stakeholders, including international organizations, governments, the public health community, civic society, and the private sector.”

The global biopharmaceutical industry is committed to doing our part to tackle this serious issue. The AMR Industry Alliance a cross-sector coalition of 101 companies from across the industry was formed to fight and overcome antimicrobial resistance. Members including biotech, diagnostics, generics and research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations have committed to sharing information and jointly reporting on four key areas: R&D, appropriate use, access to treatment, and reducing the impact of manufacturing on the environment. And findings from their first progress report shows that they are doing just that:

  • In 2016, 22 Alliance members invested at least $2 billion in R&D to counter AMR;
  • Approximately 250 biotechnology companies across the globe are investing in innovative R&D approaches – both antibiotic and non-antibiotic – and are focused on developing powerful drugs and novel tactics to fight against AMR;
  • More than two out of three Alliance companies surveyed with marketed AMR products, have strategies, policies or plans in place to improve access to their AMR-relevant products; and
  • The Alliance is appealing to policy makers to draw from the evidence provided in this report and invites stakeholders to work more systematically with the life sciences industry, to find sustainable solutions to tackling antimicrobial resistance.

To read the full op-ed, click here.

To learn more about the AMR Industry Alliance, click here.

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