25 November 2020

Biopharma companies invest $1bn in new AMR Action Fund to save collapsing antibiotic research pipeline

In one of the most ambitious collaborative initiatives ever undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry, more than 20 leading biopharmaceutical companies in early July announced the launch of the AMR Action Fund, a ground-breaking partnership that aims to bring two to four new antibiotics to patients by 2030. These new treatments are urgently needed to address the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant infections – or antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The companies have raised so far nearly US$1 billion to support clinical research of innovative new antibiotics that address the most resistant bacteria and life-threatening infections. Through the AMR Action Fund, pharmaceutical companies will join forces with philanthropies, development banks, and multilateral organizations to strengthen and accelerate antibiotic development. The Fund will focus on urgent public health needs. It will provide much needed financial resources, as well as important technical support to help biotech companies bring novel antibiotics to patients.

The AMR Action Fund, an initiative of the international body representing the R&D pharmaceutical industry (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, IFPMA), was announced at simultaneous virtual launch events in Berlin, Germany, and Washington, D.C., USA, on 9 July, with a third event in Tokyo, Japan on July 10.

AMR is a looming global crisis that has the potential to dwarf COVID-19 in terms of deaths and economic costs.

Commenting on the Fund, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General World Health Organization, said: “AMR is a slow tsunami that threatens to undo a century of medical progress. I very much welcome this new engagement of the private sector in the development of urgently-needed antibacterial treatments. WHO looks forward to working with the AMR Action Fund to accelerate research to address this public health crisis.”

New antibiotics
The world urgently needs new antibiotics, but there are few in the pipeline because of a paradox: despite the huge societal costs of AMR, there is currently no viable market for new antibiotics. New antibiotics are used sparingly to preserve effectiveness, so in recent years, a number of antibiotic-focused biotechs have declared bankruptcy or exited this space due to the lack of commercial sustainability, resulting in the loss of valuable expertise and resources. The consequence is a huge public health need for new antibiotics, but a lack of funding available for antibiotic R&D, particularly the later stages of clinical research. This creates a “valley of death” between discovery and patient access.

“With the AMR Action Fund, the pharmaceutical industry is investing nearly US$1 billion to sustain an antibiotic pipeline that is on the verge of collapse, a potentially devastating situation that could affect millions of people around the world,” said David Ricks, Chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company and President of IFPMA. “The AMR Action Fund will support innovative antibiotic candidates through the most challenging later stages of drug development, ultimately providing governments time to make the necessary policy reforms to enable a sustainable antibiotic pipeline.”

With this investment, the AMR Action Fund will be the largest collective venture ever created to address AMR. The AMR Action Fund will:

  • Invest in smaller biotech companies focused on developing innovative antibacterial treatments that address the highest priority public health needs, make a significant difference in clinical practice, and save lives.
  • Provide technical support to portfolio companies, giving them access to the deep expertise and resources of large biopharmaceutical companies, to strengthen antibiotic development, and support access and appropriate use of antibiotics.
  • Bring together a broad alliance of industry and non-industry stakeholders, including philanthropies, development banks, and multilateral organizations, and help encourage governments to create market conditions that enable sustainable investment in the antibiotic pipeline.

The Fund is expected to be operational during the fourth quarter of 2020.

For more details on the AMR Action fund, visit www.AMRactionfund.com