- More than 80 pharmaceutical companies, including majors like Pfizer and Merck, jointly declared their commitment to increase investment in the development of antibiotics while calling on world governments to better incentivize the antibiotic market.
- In a declaration delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the pharma companies pushed governments to better reward costly antibiotic R&D investments. Antibiotics usually command lower prices despite the cost of research.
- Specifically, the declaration asked for governments to allocate funds to create a "sustainable and predictable market for these technologies."
This declaration comes as antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become more prevalent. Even as more medicines are rendered ineffective, new antibiotics have been hard to come by. The pharma companies noted that no new class of gram-negative antibiotic has been approved over the last 40 years.
Two million people in the U.S. are infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and 23,000 people die, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
But, in the view of the drug companies, its challenging to recoup the investment made in R&D development as antibiotics are priced lower than many other medications. "The value assigned to antibiotics and diagnostics often does not reflect the benefits they bring to society, nor the investment required for their creation," the companies state in the declaration.
In order to rectify this problem, the companies want governments to fund new market structures that would "reduce the link between financial revenues for new antibiotics and the amount they get used." Some antibiotics are relied on for emergency purposes, and thus aren't prescribed as regular treatment like other drugs. One of the ways the companies propose to effect this change is implementing government-funded lump sum payments to companies creating proven antibiotics.
Additionally, the companies called on governments and health systems to reduce incentives for over-prescribing antibiotics.
In return for this more beneficial market structure, pharma companies pledged higher R&D investment and greater collaboration between industry and the public. The declaration also announced pharma support of reducing the use of antibiotics to only those patients that need them.