A coalition of 101 life science companies and industry associations has made significant progress developing new therapies and diagnostics to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, according to the group’s first biannual progress report.
However, leaders of the coalition — the AMR Industry Alliance, founded in 2016 — say there is still much to be done.
“We have a lot of relevant capabilities around infection prevention and control, diagnostic testing, surveillance and reporting,” Gary Cohen, executive vice president for global health at the New Jersey-based Becton, Dickinson & Company (BD), told Infectious Disease News. “So what we’ve been doing is mobilizing those capabilities in a manner in which we can hopefully play an important role in combatting AMR, mobilizing awareness and building a coalition across sectors that can have a positive impact.”
Cohen, who is also President of the BD Foundation and holds leadership positions in several international health organizations, added that there is no one sector that can address AMR on its own, “due to the size and complexity of this problem.”
According to the CDC, at least 2 million people are infected with antimicrobial-resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result each year in the United States.
The progress report details steps member companies like BD have taken in research and development (R&D) of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, among other AMR-fighting initiatives.
The findings show that companies invested at least $2 billion in AMR-related R&D in 2016. According to a survey of 36 of the AMR Industry Alliance members, two-thirds of the companies are conducting early-stage research on potential drugs with new mechanisms of action, and seven are exploring new nonantibiotic therapies. More than three-quarters of respondents with AMR R&D have had at least one AMR-related product in phase 2 or 3 development in the last 5 years, the report said.
Additionally, companies reported in the survey that they had developed 10 antibiotics with activity against WHO priority 1 or 2 pathogens or CDC urgent or serious threats. They also reported development of 13 AMR-relevant vaccine candidates and 18 AMR-relevant diagnostic products.
However, respondents overwhelmingly said there are not enough incentives to develop new treatments. More than 90% considered current incentives “promising but far to go” or “insufficient relative to the challenge.”
In what is perhaps a hopeful sign for the alliance, 72% of respondents indicated that they would most likely invest more in R&D if they were offered new pull incentives and if commercial models improve. Still, of the companies active in R&D, 30% indicated they would likely decrease investment if no new incentives were offered and current market conditions persisted.
A possible solution to that, Cohen said, is public-private coordination to help make investment in therapies and preventive measures sustainable.
“We need really strong cooperation between the public and private sectors to [identify] the circumstances in which the public interest can be served in a manner that also makes it feasible for the industry to do what only it can do,” Cohen said. – by Joe Green
Disclosure: Cohen is Executive Vice President of BD Global Health and a board director for the Perrigo Company.
National Institutes of Health. Antimicrobial Resistance. 2013. https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=26. Accessed January 18, 2018.