Slow progress and varied strategies for surveillance data sharing
Pharmaceutical companies' AMR surveillance is crucial data which must be made more widely available.
- Different companies use different methods of releasing surveillance data and it's not always freely accessible
- AMR surveillance data is crucial public health information
Making surveillance results – and, most importantly, raw data – publicly available is key to helping governments, public health authorities and healthcare professionals (HCPs) measure and respond to the spread of resistant infections, analyse local trends and prioritise objectives in stewardship policies.
The Benchmark looks for companies to share raw data so that the WHO, third-party researchers and other experts have the information needed for further research, beyond the specific questions asked by the companies themselves.
The Benchmark notes that companies are using different mechanisms to make
surveillance data available. For example, Johnson & Johnson is sharing data from clinical trials in the YODA platform which can only be accessed via approval through an independent scientific committee, while MSD is reportedly preparing to host its raw data on its website, with a process for researchers to request access.
However, data shared in a restricted manner has limited use as it is not freely available to public health bodies, which may not be able to predict which analyses might be needed in the future. Furthermore, such data has a public health importance and should therefore not be withheld.
Novartis and Sanofi have started sharing surveillance data since the previous Benchmark report in 2020, having published aggregated results of their surveillance studies in open-access journal articles.
Pfizer remains the only company in scope to reach the gold standard by publicly sharing its raw data. It shares raw data from its ATLAS programme (from 2018) on the AMR Register, an open-access data platform.
How governments and industry can work together
AMR surveillance is a largely neglected branch of public health. While the Benchmark recognises that action from pharmaceutical companies is needed, this can be achieved more effectively if countries are also active in setting up surveillance systems, identifying gaps and setting guidelines to harmonise the data.
Transparency in sharing surveillance data is beneficial to public health authorities as it can help healthcare professionals to make informed treatment choices, forecast disease trends, and plan medicine purchases.
It can also be used to inform policy directives and investment decisions, including diagnostic laboratory capacity and infection prevention and control responses, or identifying new emerging pathogens. It is important that all stakeholders work collaboratively and in solidarity to coordinate and scale up AMR surveillance.