Countries, organisations and foundations came together today (May 22) alongside the annual World Health Assembly to launch the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub (Global AMR R&D Hub).
The Global AMR R&D Hub is a new initiative aimed at promoting research into combating antimicrobial resistance.
According to a press release today from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, “the German Federal Government has led the establishment of the Global AMR R&D Hub: Under the German Presidency, the G20 Heads of State and Government resolved in the summer of 2017 to intensify global cooperation in the fight against AMR. The Federal Research Ministry subsequently proposed plans for the Global AMR R&D Hub and supported its establishment. Initially, the secretariat of the Global AMR R&D Hub will be based in Berlin, at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).”
“We urgently need new drugs, particularly antibiotics, in the fight against infectious diseases in order to protect the health and lives of people around the world,” German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek said in the release. “Resources need to be used more effectively in order to develop more new treatments, diagnostics and prevention measures for resistant pathogens. We will therefore strengthen and improve the coordination of our research on antimicrobial resistance at the national and international level.”
Alex Azar, US Minister of Health and Human Services, Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, Japan, Norway, European Union, Netherlands, France as well as the WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wellcome Trust were all present at the launch of the new initiative, held at the top of the World Intellectual Property Organization building. Switzerland, a new member of the Global AMR R&D Hub, was also present.
The countries, organisations and foundations all pledged their support to the initiative. Davies announced at the lunch, “We are committing 20 million pounds to CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator).” The Gates Foundation committed $25 million, according to a press release on the CARB-X announcement available here.
The initiative aims to “inform and collaborate” on a global, political level; “identify and prioritise R&D gaps” and facilitate resources; and promote increased investments into AMR R&D, maintaining awareness at all levels. It is not intended to be a funding body or duplicate existing efforts, and intends to be in alignment with priorities of the WHO, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The Board of the new Hub consists of 18 members – 15 countries, the European Commission, and two philanthropic organizations. It will include relevant intergovernmental organizations as observers, so far WHO and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
It will be located the first three years in Berlin, financed by Germany. More information on AMR from the German government is available here.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) issued a statement welcoming the launch of the Global AMR R&D Hub. It noted that the aim of the Hub initiated by the German G20 presidency last year was to “promote coordination of existing and future financial investments in AMR R&D initiatives.”
“This Global R&D Hub on AMR has the potential to be an important part of the international response that is urgently needed,” MSF said. The group’s statement included several proposals for the Hub to “ensure the delivery of patient-needs-driven R&D for new and affordable medical tools that address the AMR crisis in an equitable, cost-effective and sustainable way.”
Els Torreele, Executive Director, MSF Access Campaign, said in a release: “MSF has been witnessing, with alarming regularity, the challenges caused by antimicrobial resistance in our clinics: from war-wounded patients from Syria undergoing reconstructive surgery in Jordan, to burn patients in Haiti; from newborn babies in Pakistan to patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in South Africa, India and Eastern Europe.”
She said MSF is “encouraged” by the launch, saying it could be “an important catalyst to address the urgent need for medical tools for use by people in real life conditions to tackle the worldwide AMR crisis.”
But, she said, to be fully effective, the AMR Hub will have to go beyond “business as usual” and bring about a cost-effective and sustainable R&D ecosystem that “maximizes public return on investment and delivers effective new treatments that people need, that are adapted to the health contexts in which people are treated, and available and accessible at prices people can afford.”
By Damilola Adepeju