Drugmakers have given a guarded welcome to a report from the European Commission that lays out plans to beat antibiotic resistance.
The commission says that with 25,000 patients dying per year in the EU from infections caused by drug resistant bacteria, and related costs of over 1.5 billion euros in healthcare expenses and productivity losses, "antimicrobial resistance is a growing health problem". As such, it has published "a comprehensive action plan" which unveils 12 "concrete actions" to deal with the problem.
These include promoting "unprecedented collaboration to bring new antimicrobials to patients" and developing "multilateral and bilateral commitments for the prevention and control" of antimicrobial resistance. The EC's comments came following the publication of a report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control which shows that resistance to last-line antibiotics is increasing in Europe, causing pneumonia and urinary tract infections in hospitals.
European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Maire Geoghegan Quinn, said that "finding the next generation of antibiotics is crucial if we are to stay ahead of the curve in the face of bacteria and other pathogens which are resistant to drugs".
The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations welcomed the Commission's plan, saying the threat to public health from antibiotic resistance "requires bold thinking followed by bold action". It notes that the Innovative Medicines Initiative, jointly-funded by EFPIA and the European Commission, which is considering a new large-scale programme for novel antibiotic drugs.
Richard Bergstrom, EFPIA's director general said "this is very new ground for the industry and over the course of the next few months we will be finalising the details, but the shape we hope to create for the initiative is clear". In the short term, he spoke of "the need to identify improved regulatory pathways which will enhance the feasibility of clinical trials in this area", saying that "there are too many situations in which it is no longer feasible to conduct trials".
EFPIA president and GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Andrew Witty added that "unfortunately, the current commercial model doesn’t stimulate the innovation needed in this area". He claimed that "we need a fundamentally different approach and public-private collaboration, with the sharing of information and funding, provides us with a significant opportunity to reduce the hurdles in our way".