Pharma companies unite to demand action on superbugs

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More than 80 of the world’s leading pharmaceuticals groups have come together to call on governments and industry to collaborate on tackling drug-resistant superbugs.

The Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance, unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos, sees companies commit to increasing investment in new antibiotics. In addition, they called on governments to support new commercial models that would increase incentives for R&D while discouraging overuse of antibiotics.

Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said that “for the world to continue to have new antibiotics, we need investments in basic science and novel incentive models for industry R&D and to preserve existing treatments, we need new frameworks for appropriate use”.

Jim O’Neill, chairman of the UK government’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, said the declaration is “a major step forward in establishing a properly global response” to the problem. He added that “this is a level of consensus that we have not previously seen from the industry”.

Neil Murray, chief executive at the UK’s Redx Pharma, said: “There is a doomsday clock ticking, with the effectiveness of antibiotics diminishing at an alarming rate. New ways must be found to support innovation and drug discovery in this critical area.”

World Health Organisation director-general Margaret Chan added that antimicrobial resistance “is beyond the capacity of any organisation or country to manage or mitigate alone”, saying the declaration affirms that the challenges of the problem “can be addressed only through collaboration and global collective action.”