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Pharma Invests $1B into Antibiotic Pipeline

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Silas Holland

Head of External Affairs, AMR Action Fund

The world is losing its most powerful tool in healthcare: antibiotics. The reason is rapidly rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Industry is taking steps to help tackle the crisis.

AMR not only threaten lives, it undermines every aspect of modern medicine. COVID-19 has shown us the tremendous public health and economic consequences when we don’t have the vaccines and treatments we need. AMR could have even greater consequences – unless we take action now.

The pipeline problem

We urgently need new antibiotics, but there are few in the pipeline because of a paradox: despite the huge societal costs of AMR, there is no viable market for new antibiotics. New antibiotics are used sparingly to preserve effectiveness, so in recent years multiple antibiotic-focused biotechs have declared bankruptcy due to the lack of commercial sustainability.

The remaining biotechs are not able to find investors to support their antibiotic R&D, particularly the later stages of clinical research. This funding “valley of death” means that many antibiotics in the pipeline are in danger of never reaching patients.

While COVID-19 caught the world unprepared, AMR is a predictable and preventable crisis that we can’t afford to ignore.

Pharma taking action

To bridge this gap, the AMR Action Fund aims to bring two to four new antibiotics to patients by the end of the decade. The companies involved have raised so far nearly US$1 billion of new funding to support antibiotic clinical research that addresses the most-resistant bacteria.

The aim is to overcome key technical and funding barriers of late-stage antibiotic development through the injection of both pharma expertise and capital into biotechs. The Fund will also work with governments to ensure there is a sustainable pipeline of new antibiotics to fight superbugs.

Decisive government action needed

Putting in place the necessary policy reforms to support antibiotic innovation will take time – time the world doesn’t have as the fragile antibiotic pipeline is near collapse.

The pharmaceutical industry has stepped up to ensure no promising science is delayed or stopped. However, the AMR Action Fund is just a temporary and time limited bridge that will only work if key governments make the necessary reforms to create a sustainable market. There have been some promising proposals to change the way antibiotics are valued and reimbursed, but more action is needed from governments.

While COVID-19 caught the world unprepared, AMR is a predictable and preventable crisis that we can’t afford to ignore. Together, we must act now to safeguard our future from this global threat.

Over 20 pharmaceutical companies have invested nearly US$1 Billion into the AMR Action Fund. The concept was developed by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations in collaboration with the World Health Organization, European Investment Bank, and Wellcome Trust. www.AMRActionFund.com

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