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Trying to Reduce AMR Through Legislative Means

Working to Fight AMR is working in Washington DC to help pass policies in Congress to help alleviate this significant issue.


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains a paramount concern within medicine. In fact, in an analysis published in The Lancet back in January, investigators estimated that antimicrobial resistance was the leading cause of death worldwide in 2019. Investigators estimated that resistance itself caused 1.27 million deaths that same year, and that antimicrobial-resistant infections played a role in 4.95 million deaths.

One strategy in trying to stay ahead of AMR is to develop new and novel antibiotics. Part of the existing challenge here has been that the larger pharmaceutical companies have exited this space and the development of these life-saving therapies. It has become the domain of much smaller companies. Developing antibiotics is an expensive, lengthy process, and it remains very difficult to get these medicines to market. This can put financial stress on these smaller companies who may have limited or no revenue from other medicines in their portfolio.

“Over 80% of R&D in this area is being conducted by small biotechs,” Emily Wheeler, director of Infectious Disease Policy at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) said. “Overall we have seen a very small and waning investment in this critical sector, which is really concerning given the growing threat of resistant infections.”

One way to address these financial inequities is to offer incentives through the federal government. As such, there are organizations and campaigns aiding in trying to get legislative policies passed in Congress to help pharmaceutical companies to incentivize them to complete making antibiotics.

For example, the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Up surging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act, is a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation aimed to incentivize innovative drug development targeting the most threatening infections, improve the appropriate use of antibiotics, and ensure domestic availability when needed.

In addition to her work at BIO, Wheeler is also the director of the Working to Fight AMR coalition. According to its website, Working to Fight AMR, “seeks to combat this public health crisis by stimulating the production of new antimicrobial medicines.”

Contagion spoke to Wheeler who provided an overview of Working to Fight AMR, the challenges of the existing market, an explanation of push incentives, and some of the prospective legislation in Congress.