Diagnostics; tackling the spread of AMR

Antimicrobial Resistance has been a hot topic in the news again this week, as two reports have been released reviewing the AMR situation as it stands.

The first annual progress report following the Government’s five year strategy 2013-18 into AMR has been issued, available here. 
The report sets out what work is underway and some important achievements in the first year of the Strategy including:

• establishing baseline data to improve the way we monitor antibiotic prescribing and trends in resistance
• publishing antimicrobial prescribing quality measures
• launching an Antibiotic Guardian campaign (during European Antibiotic Awareness Day)
• improving the coordination of research into AMR
• leading the development of a new World Health Organisation (WHO) resolution on AMR
• establishing an independent Review on AMR

The Antibiotic Guardian Campaign took place on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, which BIVDA were able to also contribute. You can find BIVDA’s Testing Tuesday on the issues here. Don’t know what #TestingTuesday is? Click here to find out more. 
The report shows that Government is looking to work with the diagnostics industry, and has pointed to Innovate UK’s Precision Medicine Catapult as a continuing focus. While this catapult has previously had a focus on oncology, it shares the same principles as the work to tackle AMR, i.e. in delivering: 

a) the right drug first time
b) earlier screening and treatment
c) smarter monitoring and adjustment of treatments

Secondly, an initial report has been published by The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, commissioned by the Prime Minister in July, and chaired by economist Jim O’Neill, entitled ‘Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations’. 

Jim O’Neill’s review has put forward some stark figures – with a “low estimate” of current deaths globally from AMR is at 700, 000 per year. However, the review demonstrates that if we do nothing about antimicrobial resistance, by 2050 there will be 10 million extra deaths and it will cost the global economy up to $100tn ($15tn of which is from Europe). Jim O’Neill has said that “as big as that number seems it almost definitely underestimates the economic cost”. 

According to RAND’s economic modelling used in this review, delaying the development of widespread resistance by just 10 years could save $65 trillion USD of the world’s output between now and 2050. 

 ‘Already we see a cause for optimism’. While they have no estimates on the cost to solve the problem – the review says it would be “many orders of magnitude greater for society than the investment”. To do this, they point to four things:

• University and biotech R&D for new drugs, therapies and vaccines
• A WHO led international governance framework, and global collaboration
• Advances in genetics, genomics and computer science, with diagnostics at the fore
• Sustained growth of low and middle-income countries helped by investing in sanitation and basic health infrastructure, which is ultimately aligned to drug resistance. 

Recognition has been given to the need for a high level review of the diagnostic and POC pipeline, and whether there are market failures or bottlenecks in development , as has been recognised in the drug pipeline.  

Diagnostic firms will appreciate the need for this, and there will be hopes that issues regarding silo budgeting, R&D funding and the need for awareness-raising with clinicians will be picked out. 

The recommendations outlined by these reviews as well as current initiatives such as the Longitude Prize show that recognition is being given to the full value diagnostics bring, to both the economy and to the patient. 

We look forward to next instalments of both reviews, and encourage collaboration across all partners to ensure that these goals to stem the tide of AMR is achieved.  


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