News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Bold call on antimicrobial resistance – today’s silent pandemic

Health Industry Hub | April 28, 2021 |

Pharma News: Treatments are urgently needed to address the rapid global rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

MTPConnect appeared before a parliamentary inquiry to highlight the challenges posed to human health by increasing (AMR) and the lack of new antimicrobials coming through the research and development pipeline.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport is inquiring into the approval processes for new drugs and novel medical technologies in Australia, with a particular focus on those for the treatment of rare diseases and conditions where there is high and unmet clinical need.

MTPConnect’s Managing Director and CEO Dr Dan Grant, who is also Co-chair of the Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network (AAMRNet), gave evidence at a public hearing in Melbourne. He told committee members that AMR is a silent pandemic — and it’s happening now.

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“We don’t really know the size of the AMR crisis because AMR deaths can be hidden behind other conditions…but figures from the OECD do give some context. They estimate that by 2050, as many as 10,000 Australians will die due to AMR, and at a global level, it will claim 10 million lives per year,” Dr Grant said.

“Regrettably, pharmaceutical companies are exiting infectious diseases product development and the pipeline of new products is weak.

“As of December 2020, there were only 43 new antibiotics in clinical development and only a quarter of those are novel classes or mechanisms. History shows that only 1 in 5 will receive US FDA approval.

“This lack of R&D is a result of a broken market. The investments aren’t happening because investing in antibiotic R&D is loss-making.”

Dr Grant explained that because they are ‘last line of defence’ medicines, they’re only used when all other treatments have failed.

“They are rarely used, and in the context of our reimbursement system, where payments are based on volume, it’s just not viable to bring a new antimicrobial to market.”

Dr Grant  went on to explain that AAMRNet, established by MTPConnect in September last year, has successfully brought together all the key AMR stakeholders to promote Australia’s role in combatting drug resistant infections.  

“We know Australia has strengths in early-stage research and clinical trials, and new ways to treat infections are being researched. These include phage therapies – the use of viruses to treat bacterial infections –  rapid diagnostics, antibodies, repurposed medicines and antibacterial vaccines. Understanding this R&D landscape will help pave the way for novel product development,” he said.  

“Another opportunity is in clinical trials, and to ensure access for patients we need to make sure regulatory pathways and clinical trial requirements are optimised. These are issues MTPConnect will be exploring in a new report on Australia’s clinical trials ecosystem, to be released next month.

“We are strongly advocating for the establishment of an AMR-focused accelerator in Australia and we believe the establishment of a reimbursement pilot program will encourage investment in AMR R&D,” said Dr Grant.

Last year, more than 20 leading biopharmaceutical companies announced the launch of a global AMR Action Fund, a ground-breaking partnership that aims to bring 2-4 new antibiotics to patients by 2030.

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