Over the past few months, doctors, nurses, and other essential workers have been on the frontlines battling the COVID-19 virus, while pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, work behind the scenes, providing critical supplies to hospitals and patients and conducting research and development of vaccine candidates to help combat the virus.
Meanwhile, another urgent public health crisis has been percolating, and combatting it will require the same spirit of collaboration. As announced [on Thursday/last week], Pfizer is proud to join more than 20 biopharmaceutical companies who are teaming up to fight back against the growing health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
AMR occurs when bacteria evolve to resist the effectiveness of antibiotics, making previously treatable diseases difficult or impossible to treat. Without action, AMR is expected to lead to the deaths of 10 million people annually by 20501.
(Pfizer is keenly aware of this threat, having recently announced a collaboration with Wellcome Trust to help expand surveillance and support to low- and middle-income countries in the sub-Saharan region, where the population is disproportionately affected.)
New antibiotics are needed to combat this growing threat. Unfortunately, the current development pipeline is lacking, and swift action is needed from the entire healthcare industry.
“We strongly believe the world cannot tackle the growing spread of AMR without collaboration -- between private and public organizations, health care professionals, hospital administrators, policymakers, health authorities and the broader healthcare and scientific communities,” said Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla.
Enter the AMR Action Fund.
On July 9th, IFPMA announced the launch of the AMR Action Fund, a ground-breaking collective effort by more than 20 leading pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, dedicated to saving the collapsing antibiotic development pipeline. Despite a crucial need for new medicines in the face of AMR, there are few novel or new antibiotics being developed due to steep development costs, high risk of failure, long lead times and limited market potential– among other obstacles.
“The AMR Action Fund is one of the largest and most ambitious collaborative initiatives ever undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry to respond to a global public health threat,” Thomas Cueni, Director General of IFPMA said in a recent announcement.
Pfizer has pledged $100 million to the AMR Action Fund, which expects to invest over $1 billion into the development of novel antibiotics and aims to bring 2 to 4 new antibiotics to patients by the end of the decade.
“As a global anti-infectives leader, we will continue to help curb the spread of AMR and strongly believe that the collective efforts of the AMR Action Fund will help re-invigorate the anti-infectives R&D ecosystem and stimulate stronger pipelines for antimicrobial medicines,” Bourla continued.
AMR spreads far and quickly, impacting people of any age and in any country – particularly those who are already facing healthcare inequalities and those with underlying health conditions.
In addition to the human toll, the economic impact of AMR could be significant, and requires strong public health and prevention strategies. Pfizer is proud of our legacy of fighting AMR, and will continue to invest in our anti-infectives business, our ATLAS platform of antifungal and antibiotic resistance data, and our efforts in vaccines, which can help prevent AMR by stopping infections before they start. Pfizer’s participation in the AMR Action Fund is a natural extension of those efforts.
“The AMR Action Fund is a prime example of innovative thinking, collaboration and action being taken to foster forward-looking, sustainable solutions. And Pfizer is thrilled to take part,” said Bourla.