AstraZeneca commemorates today’s WHO World Health Day

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Antimicrobial resistance and its global spread

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) will introduce a six-point policy package to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Most of us live longer and healthier lives today, partly because powerful and effective medicines – known as antimicrobials – are available to treat infectious diseases. Until the discovery and availability of antimicrobials in the 1940s, people died needlessly from infectious diseases. But when AMR or drug resistance occurs, it renders these medicines ineffective.Drug resistance is a truly global problem. In the US, hospital-acquired, drug-resistant bacterial infections kill 63,000 patients each year, and cost $34 billion. In the EU, multi-drug-resistant bacteria cause about 400,000 infections a year and at least 25,000 deaths, and generate costs of €1.5 billion.

Is there a solution to AMR?

The first action is to develop new antibiotics, but that’s not easy given the scientific and regulatory barriers to discovery. Over the past three decades only two new classes of antibacterial medicines have been discovered, compared to 11 in the previous 50 years. Even if these numbers can be increased, the task will never be complete because the most recently approved and most effective drugs will gradually decline in efficacy and new antibiotics will have to be developed to replace them.

What are we doing about AMR?

In R&D, we have made substantial investments in novel agents. We have a robust infection pipeline with compounds in various stages of development, including ceftaroline (a promising MRSA treatment), NXL104-based combination products (potential for improved activity against Gram-negative pathogens), and AZD 5847 (a TB drug now in phase I trials).We are actively engaging with policymakers to generate awareness of this problem and working with regulatory agencies, payers, NGOs, and other stakeholders to develop solutions that help to influence and shape the policy and regulation and to drive investment in antimicrobial drugs. Among other events, we organised seminars during 2009 and 2010 on AMR at the Swedish residency in London and Washington to bring international focus to the threat AMR and its impact on public health.

David Brennan speaks about World Health Day and AMR

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David Brennan, AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer and President of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA) talks about World Health Day 2011 and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).