AstraZeneca has responded to the warnings made earlier this week by chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies about the urgent need to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said it applauds Dame Sally "and the content and timing" of the report, saying it is "a powerful reminder of the global threat to public health that the rise in drug-resistant bacteria represents". Noting that antimicrobial resistance is "a major global public health problem and not just a UK issue", the firm added that "normally straightforward procedures such as hip replacements, care of premature babies and chemotherapy for example could become highly risky".

AstraZeneca stated that while there is demand for new, effective and well-tolerated drugs, "very few new antibiotics are being brought to market due to the challenging environment for antibiotic discovery, development and commercialisation". Noting the "scientific difficulties surrounding antibacterial research, the changing regulatory environment and the overall value proposition for payers", the firm noted that it is "one of the few large pharmaceutical companies involved in the R&D of new therapies addressing the crisis".

AstraZeneca concluded by saying that, along with industry partners, it is working with governments and regulators globally "to help get these much- needed antibiotics into the hands of the medical community [and] drive awareness of responsible antibiotic prescribing.

- Meantime, late last week, AstraZeneca extended its multi-project  alliance with Cancer Research UK.

The three-year pact, aiming to develop a drugs pipeline targeting cancer metabolism, has been expanded to run to early 2015, adding two further years to develop the existing portfolio of four projects and the possibility of adding at least two new ones.

Phil L’Huillier, director of business development at Cancer Research Technology, CR UK’s commercialisation company, said: "we’re delighted to extend this important alliance with AstraZeneca and thrilled with the great progress made so far. There are already several promising compounds being developed through the partnership".

Work on these projects will continue at CR UK's Discovery Laboratories in London and Cambridge, as well as AstraZeneca's cancer research centre at Alderley Park near Manchester.