Australia’s MedTech and Pharmaceutical industry growth center, MTPConnect, has issued a stark warning that antimicrobial resistant ‘superbugs’ could result in 10,000 deaths annually by the year 2050 unless urgent action is taken to address market failure in research and development. According to MTPConnect, failure to combat this issue could cost the Australian economy up to $283 billion over the same period.
Antimicrobial drugs are specifically designed to combat microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Currently, at least 5,200 deaths in Australia each year are attributed to antimicrobial resistance, with the country on the cusp of entering a “post-antibiotic era,” according to Stuart Dignam, the CEO of MTPConnect. The organization, in collaboration with the Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network, has released a report titled “Fighting Superbugs” that outlines nine recommendations to address this looming crisis.
Among the proposed recommendations is the introduction of a subscription model for two novel antimicrobials. This model would impose a fixed price on an ongoing basis for the use of antimicrobials across the healthcare system, shared between the Commonwealth and private healthcare contributions. Additionally, the report calls for an extension of data exclusivity provisions to stimulate investment in research and development of antimicrobials. This extension would allow innovator companies to protect their safety and efficacy data used for regulatory approval of new pharmaceutical products.
One of the key challenges in the development of antimicrobial drugs is the perception among pharmaceutical companies that the market is not profitable due to low sales volumes. The report emphasizes that antibiotics are primarily designed for short-term and occasional use, as their usage needs to be carefully managed to avoid the development of resistance. The high costs associated with research and development, which can range from $1.5 billion to $3 billion per antibiotic, further discourage pharmaceutical companies from investing in this area.
The lack of investment and the financial challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies have led to a significant decline in antibiotic research and development. In the past 35 years, no new class of antibiotics has been introduced to the market, despite the urgent need for 15 new antibiotics within the next decade.
It is crucial for immediate action to be taken to address the dire situation posed by antimicrobial resistance. By implementing the recommendations outlined in the “Fighting Superbugs” report, Australia can foster innovation, provide adequate revenue streams for pharmaceutical companies, and ensure the availability of effective antimicrobials to combat infectious diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are antimicrobials?
Antimicrobials are a class of drugs designed to fight microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They are used to treat a wide range of infections and diseases.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria, develop the ability to withstand the effects of antimicrobial drugs. This makes infections harder to treat and increases the risk of severe complications.
Why is antimicrobial resistance a concern?
Antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to public health as it can render previously effective drugs ineffective. This can lead to longer and more severe illnesses, increased healthcare costs, and higher mortality rates.
What is the impact of antimicrobial resistance on the economy?
Antimicrobial resistance can have a substantial economic impact. In Australia, it is estimated that antimicrobial resistant pathogens could cost the economy up to $283 billion by 2050.
What can be done to address antimicrobial resistance?
To combat antimicrobial resistance, it is essential to invest in research and development of new antimicrobials, promote responsible use of existing drugs, and improve infection prevention and control measures. Collaboration between governments, healthcare professionals, and pharmaceutical companies is crucial in addressing this global health challenge.