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.