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Pharma must do more on antibiotic resistance, Davos meeting hears

But AMR report acknowledges the industry is doing 'better than expected'

Jayasree Iyer Access to Medicine Foundation Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark reportAn independent report looking at the pharma industry’s efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) says the sector is doing “better than expected” but is still not on track to avert a potential healthcare crisis.

The lead author of the inaugural report - Jayasree Iyer of the Access to Medicine Foundation (pictured) - told the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos that “we need more pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics, medicines and vaccines to replace the ones that no longer work, and to find new responsible ways of getting them to the patient”.

In particular, more needs to be done to bring forward new drugs for multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens or ‘superbugs’ - there are currently 28 novel drugs for high-priority pathogens in phase II or III testing, which Iyer said is “not enough”. The report also notes that “only two of these are supported by plans to ensure the successful candidate can be made accessible and used wisely once it reaches the market”.

Meanwhile, the generics industry as a whole also comes in for criticism for not doing enough to make sure antibiotics are used in ways that reduce the risk of resistance developing, although Mylan, Cipla and Fresenius Kabi are doing the best when it comes to ‘stewardship’.

The benchmark study reveals that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) are leading the charge against AMR among 30 companies active in new antimicrobial research. GSK has 55 projects in its pipeline, while Pfizer, Novartis and Sanofi also scored well, in the main because like GSK they have done away with bonuses for meeting antibiotic sales targets, which can encourage over-prescribing. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca spin-out Entasis headed the ranking of 12 smaller biopharma companies.

The AMF will carry out its survey again in two years’ time to gauge whether the 100 or so companies and 15 trade bodies that signed up to the Davos Declaration on AMR at the 2016 WEF are meeting their pledges.

“We are pleased that our contribution has been positively recognised,” said GSK’s global affairs president Phil Thomson. “But the scale of the task ahead remains acute. Specifically… we need to find creative ways to incentivise and reward new research and development in antibiotics. All parts of society must come together to tackle this issue.”

Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief medical officer, told a Davos press conference that the benchmarking report “nevertheless… shows that it is doable for a pharmaceutical company to make new medicines for AMR and bring them to market responsibly,” citing the case of J&J’s new tuberculosis drug bedaquiline which is available in 100 countries with tight control of access.

Earlier this month the AMR Industry Alliance issued a report saying that despite a spend of more than $2bn in 2016 research in this area is under threat due to economic challenges, adding that any incentives put in place must be sustainable and sufficient to stimulate R&D across the full R&D lifecycle.

Also expected shortly is the publication of recommendations from the DRIVE-AB consortium, calling for new incentives to stimulate antibiotic innovation along with provisions for sustainable use and access.

Article by
Phil Taylor

25th January 2018

From: Research

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