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News - published on 13 Dec 2016

Foundation to track pharma company progress on AMR

The Access to Medicine Foundation has started work on a new tool – an Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark that will track how pharmaceutical companies are responding to the increase in drug-resistance. The AMR Benchmark is currently funded by the UK and Dutch governments.

The world is waking up to the risk that antimicrobials could soon cease to be effective. Drug-resistant strains of microbes and bacteria already cause upwards of 700,000 deaths each year worldwide. Yet at the same time, millions of people cannot access antimicrobials, despite having curable infections. Both issues must be addressed in tandem. Progress depends on coordinated, disciplined efforts from many different players across the industry, in government and in global health.

Although we cannot underestimate the scale of the challenge, I am convinced we can overcome it. If we, as a community, can follow through on our commitments, then we can both limit the emergence of superbugs and ensure everyone with infectious diseases can access the right treatment – Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director, Access to Medicine Foundation.

The first comprehensive tool specifically focused on pharma companies
The companies that develop and market antimicrobials have a responsibility to address antimicrobial resistance. To track how they fulfil this role, the Access to Medicine Foundation will develop and launch the Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark: it will be the first comprehensive accountability tool to focus specifically on the pharmaceutical industry’s response to AMR. It will drive change by identifying and sharing effective actions companies can take, and by uncovering how progress can be achieved. The Benchmark will complement existing initiatives monitoring progress on AMR. For example, the Pew Charitable Trusts track antibiotics now being developed; the US Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy publishes data on antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance in a group of countries; the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return initiative measures farming practices related to antibiotics use.

© Copyright M J Richardson

Mapping progress 
The Foundation is currently building consensus on the industry’s role in the AMR space, looking at different areas, such as access, stewardship, R&D and production. The commitments made by pharmaceutical companies in the Davos Declaration on AMR and in the Industry Roadmap for Progress on AMR offer a useful starting point. When published in January 2016, the Declaration had been drafted, agreed and signed by 85 companies and nine industry associations from across the global pharmaceutical, diagnostics and biotechnology industries. As of April 1st, 2016, a total of 98 companies and 11 industry associations in 21 countries have added their signatures to it.

The Access to Medicine Foundation will be developing the methodology for the first Antimicrobial Benchmark in the first half of 2017. Interested stakeholders are invited to contact the Foundation in the first part of the year, to contribute to the multi-stakeholder methodology development process.

The Benchmark is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Dutch Ministry of Health. The UK government recently commissioned a Review on Anti-Microbial Resistance, conducted by Lord Jim O’Neill. Its final report states that: “the Access to Medicine Foundation and its Access to Medicine Index have been effective and widely-influential in shaping how pharmaceutical companies approach questions of ‘access’ in low and middle-income settings. We believe that there would be significant value in establishing an iteration of the ATMI specifically for antibiotics, to allow an objective assessment of progress and achievement against these important goals.”

Ten years tracking pharma companies
To develop the Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark, the Access to Medicine Foundation is building on its ten years of experience in tracking pharmaceutical company behaviour when it comes to making medicine accessible by the poor. The Foundation’s first industry benchmark, the Access to Medicine Index, is now in its fifth version. In 2017, the Foundation will publish the first Access to Vaccines Index. These Indices both compare and track companies’ performances against stakeholder expectations.

About the Access to Medicine Foundation
The Access to Medicine Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organisation based in the Netherlands. It aims to advance access to medicine in low- and middle-income countries by stimulating and guiding the pharmaceutical industry to play a greater role in improving access to medicine. The Foundation is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UK Department for International Development. For ten years, the Foundation has been building consensus on the role for the pharmaceutical industry in improving access to medicine and vaccines. It published its first benchmark of industry activity in this area in 2008, in the first Access to Medicine Index. The fifth Access to Medicine Index was published in November 2016. In 2017, the Foundation will publish the first Access to Vaccines Index, funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery, and the first AntiMicrobial Benchmark, funded by the UK and Dutch governments.

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