EU consortium to combat antibiotic resistance

A new consortium to tackle antibiotic resistance has received an injection of €9.4 million from the European Union’s (EU) Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

DRIVE‐AB (Driving Reinvestment in R&D and Responsible Antibiotic Use) is a public‐private partnership, which aims to define a standard for the responsible use of the reducing reserve of effective antibiotics, and to develop, test and recommend new economic models for pharma investment in developing new ones.

The World Health Organization has identified antimicrobial resistance as one of the three greatest threats to human health. An estimated 25,000 people die each year in the EU from infections that are resistant to multiple drugs. The annual societal costs are estimated at €1.5 billion.

Despite the recognised and growing need for new antibiotics, only two new classes of antibiotics have been brought to the market in the last three decades, as industry considers this a high‐risk/low‐return market with little to satisfy shareholders.

In July, the UK government commissioned an independent review of antibiotic use, which, though welcomed, was seen by those working in the field as moving too slowly. At the time, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the Science and Technology Committee both called for the UK to pilot alternative reimbursement models for antibiotics to encourage more R&D, and this new European partnership sets out to address this need.

DRIVE‐AB comprises partners across 11 European countries from academic institutions, research organisations, pharma and biotech. Over the next three years, they will create and test new economic models for antibiotic R&D to reinvigorate investments in this area.

The group will also investigate how the efficacy of existing and new drugs can be maintained and preserved by defining their responsible and appropriate use.

The project brings together knowledge spanning all phases of antibiotic R&D, financing, clinical use, antibiotic stewardship, quantitative economic modelling and evaluation of public health policies, and its members will work with other groups around the world.

Project leader, Stephan Harbarth, from the University of Geneva, said the ambitious programme would address the ‘very real threat to human health’ of what he called the dual crisis of antibiotic resistance and the near empty antibiotic pipeline.

“I am confident the worldwide renowned expertise, motivation and diversity of the DRIVE‐AB partners are an appropriate match for the complexity and scope of the problem to be confronted,” he stated.

Project partners are the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Chatham House, Centre for Anti‐Infective Agents, Heidelberg University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Radboud University Medical Centre, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre, University of Antwerp, University of Geneva, University of Lorraine, University of Rijeka Medical Faculty, University of Strathclyde, University of Tübing, Uppsala University, Wageningen University and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) members Astellas, AstraZeneca, Cubist, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Pfizer and Sanofi.

IMI was launched in 2008 as a joint undertaking between the EU and EFPIA. It has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024, funding 46 current initiatives to speed the development of better and safer medicines.


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