New report from Access to Medicine Foundation shows what pharma companies can do to ensure the few promising antimicrobials in development reach patients on the frontlines of drug resistance

AMSTERDAM, May 23, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The race to create replacement antibiotics and antifungals to combat superbugs is falling dangerously short, putting people across the world at risk. However, a shift in research and development (R&D), including investment in access and stewardship planning, can make a significant impact against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

As most large research-based pharmaceutical companies are no longer active in antimicrobial R&D, there are very few new treatments making it to market, leaving patients vulnerable to the rapid spread of AMR. Despite this reality, a handful of projects in late-stage clinical development could have a significant impact.

New report from the Access to Medicine Foundation tracks five such projects across the pipelines of GSK, F2G, Innoviva, Venatorx (gepotidacin , olorofim, zoliflodacin and cefepime-taniborbactam, respectively) and Pfizer’s recently approved aztreonam-avibactam (Emblaveo®). Collectively, these projects could save at least 160,000 lives annually by providing much-needed medicines to treat drug-resistant gonorrhoea, urinary tract infections, intra-abdominal infections, respiratory infections, and invasive fungal infections. While these diseases affect a wide range of patients globally, women and children- especially those living in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs)- are disproportionately affected.

“We have a small, but effective, arsenal in the race to combat drug-resistant infections. The difference between us winning or losing this race depends on how companies enable access to people living on the frontlines of drug resistance.”Jayasree K. Iyer, CEO, Access to Medicine Foundation.

Findings reveal that companies are employing diverse range of strategies within their access and stewardship plans but structured advance planning has not yet become standard. Encouragingly, four of the five companies in scope, GSK, Pfizer, Innoviva, and Venatorx, are conducting or initiating clinical trials that directly target children, signalling progress in closing the gap between adult and paediatric access. Commitments for registration were identified in five LMICs: China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand. However, for 108 of 113 LMICs in scope, where people also face high burdens of the diseases targeted by these projects, it is currently unclear whether any of them will be made available upon initial approval. 

The report identifies opportunities and recommendations for companies in focus and outlines actionable steps for global stakeholders in antimicrobial R&D to promote widespread adoption of advance access and stewardship planning.

“Tackling the sheer scale and pace of drug resistance is a complex global health issue that will require action from pharmaceutical companies across several areas. This includes providing appropriate access and implementing stewardship measures to safeguard the effectiveness of innovative antimicrobials. Failure to do this will limit efforts to tackle drug resistance.”– Marijn Verhoef, Director of Operations and Research, Access to Medicine Foundation.

As global health stakeholders prepare for 2024 UN General Assembly’s High-level Meeting on AMR, this report comes at a crucial moment, emphasising the urgent gaps that need attention. Read the report here.

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