September 27, 2018
3 min read

CDC, HHS announce global initiative to fight antimicrobial resistance

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The United States government has issued a global challenge to fight antimicrobial resistance, or AMR.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar launched The AMR Challenge in New York during an event cohosted by HHS and the CDC, which will lead the project. The event, which coincided with the U.N. General Assembly, also was attended by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, and others.

“I know there are many events vying for your attention this week, so we appreciate your being here. It’s a testament to what we are here to discuss, antimicrobial resistance,” Azar told the attendees. “It’s a priority for the entire U.S. government.”

All regions of the world experience antibiotic resistance. In the U.S., at least 2 million people acquire resistant infections each year and 23,000 die, according to the CDC.

The AMR Challenge charges pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, food animal producers and purchasers, medical professionals, government health officials and other global leaders to address antibody resistance by reducing antibiotics and resistance in water and soil; improving antibiotic use, including ensuring access to medicines as needed; developing new vaccines, drugs and diagnostic testing; improving infection prevention and control; and enhancing data sharing and collection.

One hundred and six organizations have made commitments so far, according to the CDC. Azar discussed those commitments, including:

The AMR industry Alliance, which includes generic and research-based pharmaceutical companies that have agreed on a framework to promote responsible antibiotic manufacturing;

Walmart U.S., which is working with its animal protein suppliers to report antibiotic use through its suppliers;

NovaDigm Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine for Candida auris;

CARB-X, which will invest $80 million globally by December 2018 in 40 new product developers focusing on gram-negative bacteria treatment, diagnostics to identify new resistance and infections faster and new treatment alternatives and vaccines; and

Petco, which committed to not allowing prophylactic use of antibiotics in its supply chain.

Health care systems representing part of more than 20,000 health care facilities in the U.S. have committed to reducing inappropriate antibiotic use, according to the CDC.

“The threat of AMR is real and looming,” Azar said. “Indeed, part of the promise of modern medicine is itself at stake. But together, with every country and sector doing its part, we can keep future generations safe.”

Speakers at the event also mentioned the importance of the U.N. General Assembly high-level meeting on tuberculosis that took place Sept. 26.

Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH
Hilary Babcock
Other speakers included Tedros, Balram Bhargava, MBBS, MD, DM, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research and secretary of India’s Department of Health Research, and Anand Anandkumar, PhD, cofounder and CEO of Bugworks Research, Inc., a start-up company located in India.

Bugworks has created “a novel methodology to design a new class of antibiotics that is broad spectrum and able to work on gram-positives and gram-negatives, organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases and organisms that are implicated in bioterrorism,” Anandkumar told Infectious Disease News.

He said the company is conducting preclinical trials on its novel class of antibiotics and hopes to announce a clinical candidate in the next few months and enter clinical trials around the end of 2019. The research firm is working with companies in the U.S., South Africa, India, Australia and Japan.

“If the trials are successful, we have the opportunity to introduce a completely novel class of broad-spectrum antibiotics 2 years from now,” Anandkumar said.

Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH, president-elect of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), attended the event.

“SHEA is excited by the momentum that the global AMR Challenge has initiated in the U.S. and international community,” Babcock told Infectious Disease News. “Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue and one that requires a coordinated response to ensure we are able to prevent the emergence and spread of these dangerous bacteria.” – by Bruce Thiel

Disclosures: Azar and Babcock report no relevant financial disclosures. Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures for Anandkumar at time of publication.

Reference: WHO. UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on the fight against tuberculosis. Accessed Sept. 26, 2018.