Largest pharmaceutical industry-backed collective venture fund tackling antimicrobial resistance announces first portfolio investments
April 4, 2022, Geneva – The international trade body representing the biopharmaceutical industry (IFPMA) today welcomes the announcement of the AMR Action Fund’s first portfolio investments. The Fund is the world’s largest public-private partnership investing in biotech companies that are developing antibiotics, involving more than 20 leading biopharmaceutical companies who raised the majority of the approximately US $1 billion when the Fund was launched in 2020. IFPMA played an instrumental role conceiving the Fund in collaboration with the European Investment Bank, the Wellcome Trust and the World Health Organization.
The announcement marks an important milestone for the Fund, which has as its goal to invest in the development of between two and four new antibiotics by 2030. New antibiotics are critical to helping stem the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is a leading cause of death worldwide. At least 1.27 million deaths per year are directly attributable to infections that have grown resistant to existing antibiotics, with an additional 4.95 million deaths associated with resistant infections.
Given the nature of resistance, new antibiotics are always needed, but there are few in the pipeline because of a paradox: despite the huge societal costs of AMR, there is no viable market for new antibiotics. The reason lies in the fact that any new antibiotic will be used as a last resort and often placed in hospital stores to be used only in extreme cases when infections are found to be resistant to older antibiotics. This means that the normal business model where developers recoup the investments needed to develop and commercialize through subsequent sales does not work. In recent years a string of biotechs have gone bankrupt due to lack of commercial sustainability, resulting in the loss of valuable expertise.
The result is a huge public health need for new antibiotics, but a lack of funding for antibiotic R&D, particularly the later stages of clinical research, creating a “valley of death” between discovery and patients. Recognizing the need to bridge this gap, biopharmaceutical companies pledged to step in through the AMR Action Fund.
“With these first investments, the AMR Action Fund and our industry and philanthropic partners are delivering on our promise to advance clinical research into potential treatments for some of the world’s most menacing drug-resistant pathogens. We will continue in the months and years ahead to invest in promising biotechs so that we can bring two to four new antibacterials to the world,” said AMR Action Fund Board Chair Bill Burns. “But we cannot solve the AMR crisis alone. Now it is time for policymakers to act with similar urgency and enact market reforms to sustain antibiotic innovation well into the future and ensure that patients and society as a whole benefit from these treatments.”
“The Fund is performing a critical mission in supporting innovation for antibiotics. Despite antimicrobial resistance being on the policy agenda of the G7 for years, progress has been slow. Today, policymakers in some countries are starting to pilot market-based reforms, including reimbursement reform and new pull incentives, to create an environment where antibiotic R&D can flourish for decades to come. These need to be accelerated and scaled up; and other countries need to follow their example. Today, more than ever, governments can appreciate the importance of global health security – and AMR is a silent pandemic that has the potential to undermine modern medicine as we know it. The biotechs that the Fund is supporting will have an important helping hand to bring us new antibiotics, but these too could flounder unless policy makers implement incentives for new antibiotics”, said Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Director-General.
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) represents over 90 innovative pharmaceutical companies and associations around the world. Our industry’s almost three million employees discover, develop, and deliver medicines and vaccines that advance global health. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community improve the lives of people everywhere. For more information, visit ifpma.org.Learn more
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