The Chief Medical Officer’s Annual report is right to raise the growing issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The use of antibiotics has changed the face of healthcare, revolutionising quality of life and treatment efficacy for millions of patients. Yet, if AMR is allowed to progress unchecked, it has the potential to completely change much of what we currently take for granted about the viability of modern medicine.
The pharmaceutical industry is acutely aware of this problem and companies do invest resources in researching innovation and improvement in this field. In fact, last year, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) brought together several pharmaceutical companies and the public sector to invest €223.7million to develop new antibiotics.
The ABPI Antibiotic Network responded to the Government’s consultation on an AMR Strategy and Action Plan last year and welcomed the attention being given to this issue. However, there were areas where we were concerned the document lacked vision, seeming to view AMR as inevitable, rather than a problem which we can tackle with the right commitment to medical innovation.
From our perspective, even the best stewardship in the administration of antibiotics will not delay the development of AMR indefinitely. The only way to stave this off in the long term is to drive the development of new antibiotics to tackle those infections where resistance is developing, rather than focusing on protecting existing medicines and practices. If the UK is to continue to be at the forefront of antibiotic research and innovation, it is essential that the Government’s AMR Strategy urgently delivers the right environment for sustainable development: by recognising the impact of antibiotics on mortality and morbidity, by continuing to support the European Innovative Medicines Initiative, and undertaking a comprehensive review of R&D conditions in the UK.
We look forward to the publication of the AMR Strategy and Action Plan in full over the coming weeks, and hope it will enable the Government, academia and the pharmaceutical industry to work together to deliver this ambitious but vital agenda.
Stephen WhiteheadABPI Chief Executive