To view full interviews with the thought leaders quoted below, visit the World Antimicrobial Resistance Congress website.
Having a steady pipeline of new antimicrobial drugs is necessary to prevent drug-resistant superbugs, but finding the proper funding for research and development is a challenge.
Infectious disease has been top of mind for the past couple of years as the COVID-19 pandemic has raged on. Throughout the pandemic, public resources and private entities have come together to create safe and effective vaccines, and medical and public health measures designed to stop the spread of the virus.
However, the past couple of years have given rise to another serious health crisis: antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Daniel P. McQuillen
President, Infectious Diseases Society of America
“As the work of stewardship teams was redirected to lead the complex administration of COVID-19 therapeutics, we experienced some increases in antibiotic use and multidrug-resistant infections in hospitals,” said Daniel P. McQuillen, M.D., president of Infectious Diseases Society of America. “These scenarios may have fueled the development of new resistance threats for which we are not prepared.”
More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year in the United States. So while it’s critical to continue creating effective COVID-19 preventatives and therapeutics, experts warn that funding and resources must still be dedicated to combating AMR.
Director, Healthcare Policy & Strategy, Walgreens Co.
“We must not let fatigue from the current crisis interrupt much needed work on this looming crisis,” said Charley John, director of healthcare policy and strategy for Walgreen Co. “We should only be reinvigorated to act now to prevent a future crisis.”
“We can’t neglect bacteria,” said Kevin Outterson, a professor at Boston University and executive director of CARB-X, who noted that 1.27 million people die each year from resistant bacterial infections, on par with HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. “Funding for the research companies is still quite limited. We have great science, but struggle with the economics.”
Professor, Boston University & Executive Director, CARB-X
Because 95% of companies that develop antimicrobial drugs are relatively small, notes Infex Therapeutics chief executive Dr. Peter Jackson, they rely on outside funding to sustain their antibiotic pipelines and fund research and development. When those resources are used to combat other crises, AMR surges.
Dr. Peter Jackson
Chief Executive, Infex Therapeutics
“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Jackson said, “it’s imperative that governments around the world take a lead in leveraging private finance into small and medium businesses like Infex Therapeutics that are on the front line of AMR preparedness.”
One way the U.S. government is attempting to dedicate resources is through the PASTEUR Act (H.R. 8920and S. 4760). The bipartisan bill would create market incentives for companies that develop new antimicrobial drugs by offering annual sums for either five years or for the life of a drug’s patent.
Most in the AMR space agree the PASTEUR Act is absolutely vital for the continued development of new antimicrobials designed to treat the most dangerous superbugs.
Director, REPAIR Impact Fund for Novo Holdings
It is clear from the support PASTEUR Act has gained that this bill is the hopeful catalyst the AMR space needs to help correct the broken commercial market for antibiotics and spur continued investment and funding.
As Alex Engel, director of the REPAIR Impact Fund for Novo Holdings, so plainly puts it, “We absolutely need it [PASTEUR]”!
In addition to new antimicrobials, one of the best things patients and providers can do to combat AMR is reduce the occurrence of infections in the first place, thereby reducing the amount of antimicrobials being used.
“I would like to see more being done in the realm of prevention,” said Mary Millard, a sepsis survivor and AMR patient advocate. “Prevention of any infection is the key to patient longevity.”
Sepsis Survivor & AMR Patient Advocate
When it comes to AMR, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. In a 2019 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that expanded infection and AMR prevention measures (e.g., being mindful of cross-contamination in and between healthcare settings, using safer sex practices, tracking and improving appropriate antibiotic use) resulted in an 18% decrease in deaths from AMR over a six-year span.
Limiting the effects of AMR will remain a constant battle, but it’s important to not lose hope — continued persistence will save millions of lives.
“We have to keep persisting to change the environment for AMR products,” said Marc Gitzinger, CEO of BioVersys. “It is the only chance we have to safeguard modern medicine, as we need access to working antibiotics.”
Gathering in 2022
Each year, all stakeholders working to combat AMR gather for an annual conference called the World Antimicrobial Resistance Congress that takes place in Washington, D.C.
Those interviewed for this article, along with 1300+ AMR and infectious disease stakeholders will be in attendance again this year on September 7-8th at the Gaylord National Harbor, just outside Washington, D.C.
Fortunately, the organizers of the conference have provided an easy way for interested parties to attend.
Visit their conference website and use code AMR40 for 40% off a pass to attend.
The issues of AMR require all-hands-on-deck to help advance key objectives for this space, including funding, awareness and disease prevention and control.
To learn more about combating AMR and to read the full-length responses from the experts quoted in this article, visit www.terrapinn.com.