Tackling AMR needs concerted action to break down barriers
22 September 2016
It is very welcome news that the international community through the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has recognised the urgent need for concerted global action around the steep rise in drug-resistant bacteria. By 2050, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could claim an additional 10 million lives a year internationally if it continues unchecked – in fact in Europe, AMR already accounts for 25,000 deaths per year and is on the rise.
193 countries have agreed to act which is, of course, a positive step forward, but the challenge remains that no new antibiotics have come onto the market for 25 years. The financial rewards for creating new antibiotics are low in comparison with other more profitable drugs and there are only a few players with significant research and development projects in the pipeline.
There has been some work to try and make headway but solutions so far have often overburdened either government or the pharma sector. What is actually needed is a collaboration across the industry as well as between the public and private sectors. And it has to be based on shared risk with an agreed strategy to improve patient outcomes focussing on rewarding results rather than volume.
We have success models from other industries that we can point to and learn from. The key issue is to delink revenue from volume. The insurance sector, for example, has developed innovative risk sharing approaches to manage the impact of flooding and utilities have effective commercial mechanisms to incentivise capacity. In terms of funding R&D there are incentive models to stimulate research in vaccines and dementia that could lead the way.
It’s great to see the UN leading the charge and the key role that the UK has played in early recognition of the issue. In the UK we must roll up our collective sleeves and breakdown scientific commercial and political barriers to tackle this issue. We need to take it out of the ‘too difficult’ box by combining the best of our world leading pharma, life sciences industries and the expertise within the NHS. There is a very real opportunity to make a huge difference.
Jo Pisani leads PwC’s UK pharmaceuticals and life sciences consulting team.