Drug makers join forces at Davos to fight superbugs

Accreditation Insider, January 26, 2016

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During this year’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland, drug companies from 16 different nations announced a new agreement to fight the rise of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections, sometimes referred to as “superbugs.” Superbugs are an increasing concern for public health, with the United Kingdom government estimating that AMR infections could kill up to 10 million annually by 2050.

The “Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance” was signed by 74 drug makers, 11 diagnostic test manufacturers, and nine industry groups pledging to work with each other and governments to tackle the issue of superbugs. Several big names have signed so far, including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche Group, and Pfizer.

The declaration was in part developed by the United Kingdom’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (RAR), who is hosting the document on its website on behalf of the signatory companies. In their press release the RAR said they have several milestones for 2016 planned, including discussions on AMR at the UN General Assembly and at China’s G20 program. The declaration will be updated every two years and will be open to new members at any time.

“This declaration from industry is a major step forward in establishing a properly global response to the challenges of drug resistance. I’m really impressed that such a wide range of companies have been able to agree on a common set of principles and commitments across these important issues: this is a level of consensus that we have not previously seen from the industry on this topic,” RAR chairman  Lord Jim O’Neill said in a press release. “The pharmaceutical industry, as well as society at large, cannot afford to ignore the threat of antibiotic resistance, so I commend those companies who have signed the Declaration for recognizing the long-term importance of revitalizing R&D in antibiotics, and for their leadership in overcoming the difficult issues of collective action at play here.”

The declaration calls for several steps, including:

•    Better education of doctors and nurses on appropriate antibiotic use

•    Improved infection control through better hygiene, vaccination and preventive treatments

•    Reduced used of antibiotics in livestock

•    Higher reimbursements for antibiotics and diagnostic tests in developed markets

•    More collaboration between researchers at drug makers and those at universities and government

•    More access to antibiotics in countries around the world

•    Governments committing funding to implement the World Health Organization's Global Action Plan to create programs ensuring that health systems use antibiotics appropriately, along with increasing use of fast diagnostic tests and boosting reimbursements for them to ensure patients get the correct treatment

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