Volume 94 Issue 38 | p. 13 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 26, 2016 | Web Date: September 21, 2016

UN targets antimicrobial resistance

United Nations meeting and industry declaration focus on health issue
Department: Business
Keywords: antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance, R&D, government funding, policy
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The Medicines Co.’s Carbavance antibiotic was designed to address gram-negative bacteria, including the antimicrobial-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia shown in this scanning electron micrograph (pink) interacting with a human white blood cell (blue).
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
A photo of The Medicines Co.’s Carbavance antibiotic interacting with a human white blood cell.
 
The Medicines Co.’s Carbavance antibiotic was designed to address gram-negative bacteria, including the antimicrobial-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia shown in this scanning electron micrograph (pink) interacting with a human white blood cell (blue).
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Taking the unusual step of focusing on a health issue, the United Nations’ General Assembly convened a one-day meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The goal: a global commitment to addressing the AMR challenge.

Among items on the meeting agenda, attendees sought to reaffirm a World Health Organization plan for tackling AMR published in May 2015. They also called for the creation of national plans, programs, and policies to support efforts against AMR.

To coincide with the meeting, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations issued an AMR roadmap that builds on a declaration endorsed by more than 100 companies at the World Economic Forum in January. The 13 major firms that signed the roadmap committed to reducing the development of AMR; improving access to antibiotics, vaccines, and diagnostics; investing in R&D; and collaborating with governments and others.

In advance of the meeting, a draft UN declaration acknowledged the need to both understand AMR and develop therapies. In order that R&D be “needs-driven and evidence-based,” the declaration urged delinking R&D costs from drug prices and sales volumes.

The draft document also called for effective innovation and R&D models. Along these lines, the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority announced partnerships to codevelop products with the Medicines Co. and Roche.

BARDA will pay the Medicines Co. up to $132 million over five years to develop multiple antibiotics. Similarly, Roche will receive up to $152 million over five years to develop both antibiotics and bacterial diagnostics.

Rather than standard government contracts, the agreements use a transaction authority granted under the Pandemic & All Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006. Previously, BARDA used this authority to sign drug development deals with AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline focused on antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Drug-resistant infections have the potential to cause a level of economic damage worse than that caused by the 2008 financial crisis, according to the World Bank. Two days before the UN meeting, it released a new report analyzing the economic impact of AMR.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
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Comments
Jeffrey R. Ellis, Ph.D., MBA (Wed Sep 28 13:22:59 EDT 2016)
For all of the concerns about antimicrobial resistance, the only efforts against organisms exhibiting such resistance are those geared to the development of new antimicrobials. New pharmaceuticals take a long time to develop and are usually far too expensive for general use.

Applied environmental science to create pathogen-hostile environments in hospitals and other patient treatment centers will very likely result in elimination of most if not all hospital acquired infections, including those caused by pharmaceutical resistant microbes. Other therapeutic methods can involve phototherapy, and the use of devices, especially those developed using nanotechnology. It is long past time that national and international health care research agencies consider other methods of fighting diseases, not just relying that new drugs will be both useful and economically sustainable.

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