Every year 50,000 people die from infections which are resistant to antibiotics. And this is estimated to increase; by 2050 10 million people will die worldwide from resistant infections.
As an industry we recognise that we all have a role in to play in tackling AMR. We are working internationally and locally to do so.
One of the biggest problem areas in the fight against AMR is the research and development of new antibiotics. The science is hard and there is a problem with the current system for allocating investments into the expensive R&D needed to tackle superbugs that are always evolving.
Antibiotics are not like other medicines, because companies are working to find new medicines that in some cases will sit on the shelf and only be used against specific bugs – which are constantly evolving.
It can take 10 – 12 years and over a billion pounds to develop a new medicine and requires deep expertise, and that means there’s a big question mark over how we fund the research into antibiotics over the long-term that may only be used rarely.
This has meant that, of the 18 large companies investing in antimicrobials in 1990, by 2013 only 4 remained.
Nevertheless, we are making progress and in 2016 alone, 22 members of the AMR Industry Alliance made investments to address the current and future medical needs that result from AMR to the tune of at least USD 2 billion.
This is having results with around 40 antimicrobials targeted against the WHO/CDC priority resistant pathogens in late stage clinical development (phase II onwards).
But we’re at a tipping point, in order to enable further research and development and see a step change in the number of antibiotics in development we need to address the problem and incentivise the market.
The UK Government has launched their National Action Plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance. It sets out how Britain will achieve its new 20-year vision for a world in which AMR is contained and controlled by 2040, covering health, animals, the environment and the food chain.
Pharmaceutical companies have been working with the UK on different solutions to address problems in the market and we’ve finally got to a system we think will work.
In 2019, the UK will be the first country in the world to trial a new way of paying for antibiotics. The Government says it hope the proposals will incentivise companies to invest in the development of drugs that will treat high priority resistant infections.
The National Action Plan says NICE and NHS England will explore how a new payment model could mean pharmaceutical companies are paid for medicines based on how valuable they are to the NHS for example, whether it targets a high-priority infection, rather than for the sheer number they sell.
In July 2019, they released further details of the new payment system they would trial for antibiotics.
We’ll iron out the details of how the new model works in this trial period, but the pharmaceutical industry is ready and raring to go.
If the UK can get this right and can build a sustainable system to fund antibiotics R&D, whilst ensuring antibiotics are used appropriately, it could save the lives of millions of people around the world for generations.
In 2016, over 100 companies and 13 associations (including the ABPI) signed the Davos Declaration to tackle AMR at an international level. The AMR Industry Alliance then laid out a roadmap to deliver these commitments. These commitments mean that there is a global effort being taken by industry to address:
We’re making progress across each of those commitments. The AMR Industry Alliance published a Progress Report in January 2018 showing global industry progress on R&D, access, surveillance and appropriate use, and manufacturing.