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EU consortium focuses on antibiotic 'husbandry'

IMI-backed group to research ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance
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A new EU consortium is aiming to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, helped by €9.4m in funding from the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

DRIVE‐AB (Driving Reinvestment in R&D and Responsible Antibiotic Use) is a public‐private partnership that intends to finds ways to preserve the efficacy of the "dwindling reserve" of effective antibiotics and encourage the development of new antimicrobial drugs.

The group notes that around 25,000 people die each year in Europe from multidrug resistance infections, while managing all cases incurs an annual societal cost of €1.5bn, adding that the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified resistance as "one of the three greatest threats to human Health."

There is clear recognition that antibiotic resistance is a ticking time bomb for health systems around the world and - after years of neglect by the pharmaceutical industry - it seems new players are finally stepping forward to tackle the issue.

Earlier this month, medical charity Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK) pledged to raise £30m in the coming years to find the development of at least one new antibiotic, while in July Prime Minister David Cameron launched an initiative to explore ways to make antimicrobial development more economically attractive.

DRIVE-AB addresses one of the main deficiencies raised by Dame Sally Davies - chief medical officer for England and Wales - in her first annual report published last year, namely a lack of risk-sharing initiatives between the pharma industry and the public sector.

DRIVE-AB encompasses several pharma companies - Astellas, AstraZeneca, Cubist, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Pfizer and Sanofi - along with academic and public health institutions from across Europe and is being led by Stephen Harbarth of the University of Geneva.

"The dual crisis of antibiotic resistance and the near-empty antibiotic pipeline pose a very real threat to human health," said Harbarth in a statement. "Only collaboration on this scale, involving stakeholders worldwide will be sufficient to address the crisis."

Over the next three years, the consortium will create and test new economic models for antibiotic R&D to reinvigorate investment in this area, and will examine ways in which the efficacy of existing and new drugs can be maintained and preserved by defining their responsible and appropriate use.

The IMI is a collaboration between the EU and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations (EFPIA).

28th October 2014

From: Research, Healthcare

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