Research & Development

Read what the 2020 AMR Benchmark found when it analysed the R&D pipelines of eight large research-based companies and 13 pharmaceutical SMEs. It has mapped their medicine and vaccine projects targeting priority bacterial and fungal pathogens.

138 R&D projects in the pipeline

A total of 138 R&D projects that target the most threatening bacteria and fungi are in development. Almost 75% of projects are medicines targeting bacteria.

Few new clinical medicines are novel

Of the 138 R&D projects in the pipeline, only nine medicines in the clinical stages of development are considered novel, meaning they offer a lower risk of resistance.

Most novel projects are developed by SMEs

The nine novel medicines in clinical stage are being developed by six SMEs and two large R&D-based pharmaceutical companies.

27 vaccine projects in development

Five of the large R&D-based companies are active in vaccines R&D, with 27 projects. GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer's vaccines address the most urgent pathogens.

Highest threat pathogens are focus for SMEs

Most of the SMEs in scope are focused on R&D targeting the bacteria and fungi that pose the biggest threats from AMR.

Over 33% of projects advanced along pipeline

When comparing pipelines assessed in both the 2018 and 2020 AMR Benchmark, almost one-third of projects progressed from one stage of development to another.

55% of projects have access plans

Out of 51 projects where access planning should be taking place, 28 projects have mechanisms to enhance access to low- and middle income countries.

20% of projects have stewardship plans

Only eight projects (out of 39) have plans in place to ensure their prudent use once available on the market.

R&D investments vary across companies

Out of 21 companies, 17 disclose their antibacterial and antifungal R&D investments, ranging from USD 30 million up to USD 370 million.

Why are new medicines and vaccines needed?

As antimicrobial medicines become less effective due to resistance, the need to develop new ones grows more pressing. New vaccines can also slow the emergence of resistance by preventing disease.

Certain pathogens pose a greater threat of resistance than others – the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified pathogens that pose the greatest threat to human health, making them top R&D priorities. The AMR Benchmark looks at company pipelines targeting bacteria and fungi on these priority lists, such as the superbug C. difficile, or carbapenum-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

Once a new medicine or vaccines is approved, the challenge is to bring it to market in a way that slows the emergence of resistance. This requires advance planning while the product is still in the clinical pipeline, through licensing or pricing commitments, for example. The AMR Benchmark looks at whether companies are developing such plans from Phase II onwards.

What sets the two company groups apart?

Large R&D-based companies: Large, diverse pipelines, with more access & stewardship plans
Most of the eight large research-based companies are developing between six and 12 projects. GSK's pipeline is largest at 27 projects, ahead of Merck & Co, Inc with 12. These eight companies account for all vaccines projects identified, including four targeting bacteria in the highest threat category: C. difficile (GSK and Pfizer), E. Coli (Johnson & Johnson) and N. gonorrhoeae (GSK). Two of the eight companies have gained marketing approval for new antibacterials since 2018: Merck & Co, Inc for imipenem/cilastin/relebactam (RecarbrioTM) and Pfizer for ceftaroline/fosamil (ZinforoTM). This group accounts for most of the clinical-stage projects that have both access and stewardship plans in place (5/8). Five of these companies disclose their R&D investments on the basis of confidentiality, with Shionogi investing the highest proportion of its pharmaceutical revenues.  

How the large R&D-based companies compare
In Research & Development in 2020, GSK leads the large R&D-based companies, with a large and diverse pipeline that includes two novel projects and 15 vaccines candidates. It has access and/or stewardship plans for most late-stage projects. Johnson & Johnson and Shionogi follow, performing well in all areas.

Pharmaceutical SMEs: New and novel medicines targeting biggest AMR threats
The 13 pharmaceutical SMEs are largely developing between three and five projects. Only Melinta and Wockhardt's pipelines are larger (11 and nine projects respectively). Overall, the R&D activities of these 13 companies focus on bacteria and fungi in the highest threat category (31 out of 61 projects). These 13 companies account for six of the nine novel clinical-stage projects identified, including the two novel antifungals (fosmanogepix from Amplyx; ibrexafungerp from Scynexis), which both target Candida spp.. Three of the 13 companies have gained marketing approval for new antibacterials since 2018: Achaogen, Tetraphase and Nabriva. The 13 companies are generally less likely than large research-based companies to have access and/or stewardship plans in place for late-stage candidates, as they typically do not commercialise their own pharmaceuticals.

How the small- and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies compare
Entasis and Wockhardt lead the SMEs. Both have several clinical-stage projects targeting critical/urgent R&D priorities. Entasis has access and/or stewardship plans for both its late-stage projects.

In this Research Area, the AMR Benchmark assesses pharmaceutical companies engaged in antibacterial and antifungal medicines and vaccines R&D (i.e., in new medicines and vaccines development; and the adapting of existing products, including those in preclinical and clinical development, to develop new formulations or label extensions, etc). The AMR Benchmark evaluates companies on: the size of their pipelines; whether they are targeting priority pathogens identified by WHO and/or the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC); R&D investments; and how they plan ahead to ensure successful candidates are both accessible and used conservatively.


Explore the results

Research & Development

Read what the 2020 AMR Benchmark found when it analysed the R&D pipelines of eight large research-based companies and 13 pharmaceutical SMEs. It has mapped their medicine and vaccine projects targeting priority bacterial and fungal pathogens.

Learn more

Responsible Manufacturing

Read the results of the 2020 AMR Benchmark analysis into how eight large research-based companies and nine generic medicine manufacturers aim to minimise the risk that antibacterial discharge released from factories contributes to AMR.

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Appropriate Access & Stewardship

Read the findings from the 2020 AMR Benchmark on access strategies for antibacterial and antifungal products in LMICs from eight large research-based companies and nine generic medicine manufacturers, as well as stewardship initiatives.

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View our detailed overview of each company’s performance

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