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Caroline Hroncich was associate editor for Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, and BioPharm International from 2015 to 2017.
More than 80 pharmaceutical, biotechnology, generics, and diagnostics companies draft and sign the Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance.
In a document released on Jan. 21, 2016 titled the Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance, 85 pharmaceutical, biotechnology, generic-drug, and diagnostic companies voiced their support of innovations that will assist in preventing drug-resistant infections. The companies released the declaration in collaboration with the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a group commissioned by the UK Prime Minister for the purpose of raising awareness for the economic issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Signatories of the declaration include some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi. The document was also drafted and signed by nine industry associations spanning 18 countries. According to a press announcement, the declaration marks the first time industry players have agreed on a “common set of principles for global action to support antibiotic conservation and the development of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines.”
The declaration was launched as part of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and outlines several key measures the government and industry must take to increase antibiotic effectiveness worldwide. Signatories of the declaration call for increased governmental funding that will enhance conservation of new and existing antibiotics. The document asks healthcare and insurance providers to abolish financial incentives that encourage the prescription of antibiotics in large volumes.
The declaration also calls for a mitigation of financial risk for drug developers, and the institution of reimbursement decisions for new antibiotics-ensuring antibiotics remain sustainable investments for drug companies and developers. According to a report in STAT, “while acknowledging the need for new products, the pharmaceutical industry has argued that sufficient incentives are lacking when resources can be devoted to such lucrative areas as cancer.”
While incentives may be lacking, the importance of antibiotic development and combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been an international conversation for the past few years. In 2014, the White House issued a National Action Plan for Combatting Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria detailing steps the government should take to prevent drug resistant bacteria in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates drug-resistant bacteria accounts for two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths in the US each year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance in May 2015, stating the organization plans to work with the United Nations to “take antimicrobial resistance at a political level.” In the plan Margaret Chan, PhD, director general of WHO, says the organization hopes to have multiple national plans in place to address AMR by the 2017 World Health Assembly.
The Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance is a positive step for pharmaceutical companies, but in a statement to STAT, Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts, says there may still be a lot to figure out.
“There are big and small questions to be answered, such as where does the money come from?” said Coukell. “Some governments may negotiate reimbursement deals with specific payers. But this is certainly an encouraging step.”