AMR policy dialogue: driving innovative solutions for antimicrobial discovery
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global strategic priority and sits within the
UK Government’s National Risk Register. By 2050, AMR is predicted to cause
10 million deaths, more than cancer. In 2019 alone, there were an estimated
4.95 million deaths associated with bacterial AMR.
Although global pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) spend continues to
increase year on year, research into antimicrobial drug discovery is not currently an
attractive commercial investment. This has had two major consequences: an ongoing
decline of human capital for R&D in this field, and a decline over the longer term in
availability of therapeutically effective antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents.
Concerted and coordinated efforts are needed to translate high-level policy
commitments into strategic actions for long-term funding and support for the
R&D of new antimicrobials.
• The UK’s human, infrastructural, and financial resource capacity is currently insufficient and
inefficiently organised to effectively tackle AMR.
• New collaborative, integrative, and inter-disciplinary science discovery platforms are required, with
tailored public/private models, which build upon recent investment, to help engage and train the
next generation of research leaders and to incentivise and push products through the pipeline.
• Experience from Covid-19 can inform strategy and practice for antibiotic development by improving
available clinical data and creating new mechanisms for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
• Increasing cross-sectoral coordination and expanding international collaboration, including with
countries such as China to meet specific global patient needs, will drive appropriately targeted and
well validated antimicrobial innovation and control of AMR.
• A ‘call to action’ by key stakeholders is urgently required to refocus political attention, emphasise the
need for high-level leadership with cross-party ownership, and to clearly articulate what is required
to fix current deficits in the UK’s innovation system.
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