How to Win the War against Antimicrobial Resistance

Published on 15 November 2019 Read 25 min

Alcimed, an innovation and new business consulting firm, highlights the importance of dealing with antimicrobial resistance and discusses the potential strategies tackling the problem.

The global push to find an answer to antimicrobial resistance from the UN resulted in a set of prioritized pathogens by the WHO in 2017 and launch of the AMR challenge by the US in November 2018.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is considered a grave threat to global public health by the World Health Organization (WHO). For example, four of the main bacteria that cause bloodstream infections and pneumonia (Klebsiella, E.coli, Serratia, and Proteus) are even resistant to the antibiotics normally reserved for treating multi-resistant bacteria, and make up the most critical group of infectious agents on the AMR priority list. Second and third tier listed pathogens have also seen dramatic increases in the amount of resistance seen in pathogens that result in other common infections such as sexually transmitted diseases and food poisoning. “Failing to tackle the growing problem of AMR will not only increase costs associated with most medical procedures, but drive up incidence rates of infectious disease by failing to prevent person to person transmission,” says, Danna Hargett, a Project Manager at Alcimed.

In the fall of 2016, the UN General assembly created the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. In response, the WHO published a list of 12 AMR priority pathogens to encourage countries to focus their efforts.

In November of 2018 the US launched its own action plan called the AMR Challenge, which was a yearlong challenge to help accelerate the efforts for confronting AMR. Concluding the successful challenge last month, the US reported more than 350 commitments, across 32 countries, food, pharma, biotech, public health departments, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities.

The success of the AMR challenge is due to expanding the scope of emphasis from new antibiotics to a comprehensive set of 5 commitment areas, fully embracing the “One Health Paradigm.”

“Tackling the problem of antibiotic resistance requires looking not just at how patients are treated once they get sick, but taking a more holistic view, you have to go after all the ways that antibiotics are misused. The animal health industry is working on discovering non-shared classes of antibiotics to minimize risks to humans,” according to Anton Dura, a project manager at Alcimed. Up to 70% of the antibiotics used in animal health are also used for humans. When properly used in animal health, antibiotics are of great benefit both to the animals and the farmers, but best practices for antibiotic use in this context need to be carefully considered per geography.

The answer to the complexity of antibiotic resistance is the “One Health Paradigm”, which focuses on the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and the environment. While not a new concept, increase in connectivity through human population geographical expansion, climate change, international travel, and farming practices, brings the “One Health paradigm” into the forefront of many discussions of human health today. In line with this model, the US AMR challenge covered 5 major commitment areas: tracking and data collection, infection prevention and control, antibiotic use, environment and sanitation, and vaccines therapeutics and diagnosis.

Alcimed expects increasing interest in innovative collaborations forming around the One Health paradigm to find solutions to the mounting crisis of antibiotic resistance.

Commitment to the “One Health Paradigm” is already visible among industry giants. In the healthcare sector, Zoetis, an animal health leader, has launched two One Health Partnerships. With Celgene Global Health, they are developing novel solutions to control parasite infections in both humans and animals. Zoetis is also collaborating with Regeneron to explore and increase the use of monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of animals. Similarly, Merck Animal Health has prioritized vaccines as the first line of defense in the portfolio. In food, McDonald’s has committed to altering their supply chain with updated antibiotic usage polices in their Scale for Good campaign and Ocean Spray is collaborating in research on bioactive compounds that can be extracted from foods, such as cranberries. Given high level of commitment by governments and regulatory bodies to fight AMR, these One Health collaborations are likely to have more rapid access to the market.

At ALCIMED, we believe the cross-industry collaborations around the One Health paradigm embrace our core values of surpassing big challenges, the adventure of innovation, and teamwork. We also think that these current collaborations will pay big dividends not only for the companies involved but for human health as a whole, if successful.

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