Word of the Month: AMR

You may have heard in the news about the growing public health threat of antimicrobial resistance - often referred to as AMR.

Jocelyn Ulrich
Jocelyn UlrichSeptember 27, 2023
Word of the Month AMR

Word of the Month: AMR.

You may have heard in the news about the growing public health threat of antimicrobial resistance — often referred to as AMR. AMR is a natural process that occurs when harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites develop the ability to survive against drugs designed to kill them. This resilience can make common infections harder to treat and can lead to severe health complications, longer hospital stays and even death — in fact, AMR accounts for nearly five million deaths globally each year. As AMR continues to escalate, it poses a significant global threat, rendering previously treatable diseases more dangerous and costly to manage.

Unfortunately, the pipeline for developing new antibiotics has significantly dwindled over the years due to misaligned incentives that plague the market. The process of researching and developing a new antimicrobial medicine is lengthy, typically spanning from 10 to 20 years, with only one out of every 15 products managing to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ultimately reach patients. Even upon receiving approval, the implementation of stewardship programs designed to slow resistance and ensure novel antimicrobials are used appropriately can make it challenging for companies to earn sufficient revenues to recoup the investment needed to bring new antimicrobials and antifungals to patients.

In the battle against what the World Health Organization considers to be “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today,” the PASTEUR Act has emerged as a beacon of hope. Enacted to tackle the rising threat of AMR, this bipartisan legislation has garnered widespread support from scientists, health care providers and policymakers alike. Under the PASTEUR Act, the government would offer "subscription contracts" to manufacturers for novel antimicrobial drugs, establishing a guaranteed market for these medicines upon their approval by the FDA. The primary goal of this policy is to incentivize companies to develop antimicrobial medicines for infections in which there is unmet medical need, anticipated clinical need or drug resistance.

AMR is a complex issue that demands immediate attention and action. By ensuring appropriate use of antibiotics, establishing a guaranteed market for novel antimicrobial products and fostering global cooperation, we can hope to slow down and eventually reverse the rise of antimicrobial resistance. The time to act is now before AMR becomes an even more formidable adversary than it already is.

Learn more about the growing threat of AMR.

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