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US sets five-year target to tackle antibiotic resistance

Obama to seek $1.2bn in funding to tackle the issue

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The US government has fleshed out details of its plans to fight antibiotic resistance, with President Obama seeking a doubling in funding to $1.2bn to tackle the threat.

The five-year project aims to take at least two novel antibiotic drug candidates into clinical trials by 2020 amongst a host of other initiatives, according to an action plan released by the White House late last week.

The plan also calls for the creation of a public private partnership with a consortium of biopharma companies in order to increase the number of new antibiotics coming through the pipeline, stronger surveillance activities to help identify and counter emerging resistance and better stewardship of the antibiotics already available, both in humans and agriculture.

"Antibiotics save millions of lives every year," said the US government in a statement. "Today, however, the emergence of drug resistance in bacteria is undermining the effectiveness of current antibiotics and our ability to treat and prevent disease."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data suggest that around 2m people in the US are afflicted with resistant infections every year, which are fatal in around 23,000 cases. Meanwhile a report from KPMG recently predicted that - left unchecked - resistant infections could cause 10 million extra deaths a year and cost up to $100tn by 2050.

The new initiative was first revealed by President Barack Obama last September and is a "whole-of-government" approach towards addressing the threat of resistance, according to Obama. 

The project has been praised by The Pew Charitable Trusts, whose senior director, Allan Coukell, said: "The administration's plan includes focused efforts to boost basic scientific research, attract greater private investment, and facilitate the clinical trials of new antibiotics, all of which are required to support a robust antibiotics pipeline."

Coukell welcomed a clampdown on the use of antibiotics in livestock but said the government should boost its efforts still further in reducing inappropriate use of antibiotics in hospitals and other medical facilities.

"To monitor the effectiveness of these guidelines, we encourage the White House to seek concrete measures for assessing and reducing inappropriate prescriptions," he added.

There are already signs that pharma is starting to respond to the call to action, with five new antibiotics approved under the FDA's Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) - which rewards companies who develop new antibacterials with five years' additional market exclusivity - since the start of 2014.

International action

The action plan also calls for more international collaboration on the problem, in support of the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution a year ago which called on member states to introduce measures to "extend the lifespan of drugs, strengthen pharmaceutical management systems and laboratory infrastructure, develop effective surveillance systems, and encourage the development of new diagnostics, drugs and treatment options."

The US will engage with overseas governments and health institutions in a bid to bolster the monitoring and reporting of resistance and to spur the development of new antibiotics and diagnostics, according to the action plan.

"Working together, we can turn the tide against the rise in antibiotic resistance and make the world a healthier and safer place for the next generation."

Article by
Phil Taylor

30th March 2015

From: Healthcare

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