The concern around muti-drug resistance bacteria is constantly growing as confirmed by the World Health Organisation that in February published a list of the most life-threatening bugs. I interviewed a few companies currently addressing this problem, asking for their point of view.

– Go directly to the full article here –

Well, it took me a bit longer than expected but here I am. As I promised in my last article where I briefly explained the serious threat currently posed by antibiotic resistance, here’s the follow up to that story. I was lucky enough to have the chance of interviewing on behalf of four pharmaceutical or medical companies that are actively addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance.

The interviews followed the publication by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of a list of the most life-threatening multidrug-resistant bacteria, with which the WHO wants to draw the attention on those pathogens that are becoming a recurring deadly menace all over the world, and for which the developing of new antibiotics must be a crucial priority.

The German Curetis develops and commercialises Unyvero, a diagnostics system for severe infectious diseases in hospitalised patients. AiCuris is a spin-off of Bayer Health Care focused on finding new, revolutionary mechanism of actions for beating multi-drug resistant bugs. RedHill Biopharma Ltd is an Israel-based company focuses mainly on drugs for the treatment of gastrointestinal and inflammatory diseases. Finally, the Swiss Basilea is a well-known company whose work in the field of MDR (multi drug resistance) ranges from improving established antibiotics, to exploring novel approaches for targets not yet exploited by currently marketed antibiotics.

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow, round items) killing and escaping from a human white cell. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health via Flickr

What I found particularly interesting is that all these companies believe that the battle against MDR bacteria must be fought together. There are already several companies, especially small and medium-sized, addressing antibiotic resistance using different, complementary, approaches. However, this is not enough. It is crucial to bring governments, and the public and private sectors together in a collaboration that can effectively contain and overcome this imminent threat.

Overall, all companies believe that adequate reimbursement, additional incentives, updated regulations and collaborations are the key for boosting the extremely challenging activity of antibiotic development.

Basilea emphasises that new incentives are required to support the level of investment into R&D that is necessary to ensure a sustainable flow of innovative novel antibiotics. AiCuris strongly recommends to combine current ideas for ‘push mechanism’ and ‘pull mechanisms’ in order to incentivise investors in the field. RedHill also indicates the QIDP (Qualified Infectious Disease Products) designation – part of the GAIN (Generating Antibiotics Incentives Now) act – as enhancing the commercial incentive to develop new drugs to treat resistant bacteria, even in limited populations. Curetis believes that faster diagnostics are key to facilitating a more targeted and rational use of antibiotics to the benefit of patients and the healthcare system. Adequate and potentially extra-budgetary reimbursement of such tests would greatly facilitate their rapid adoption.

It was very interesting for me to see how intertwined the worlds of academic research, private companies and governments are. The battle against antibiotic resistance is probably one of the most important our societies will have to address in the next decades, and it is crucial to do it together.

You can read the full article with detailed information on the companies, their point of view, action plans and achievement on website, via the link I provided at the top of the page.