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Incentives and collaborations required to tackle superbugs, says GlobalData

2 February 2016  •  Author: GlobalData

Despite the recent declaration of commitment to combat superbugs by nearly 80 pharmaceutical companies at this year’s World Economic Forum, increased international collaboration and further financial incentives are required to fight the mounting threat posed by multidrug-resistant microbes, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.


According to Mirco Junker, Ph.D., GlobalData’s Analyst covering Infectious Diseases, the current economic framework has stifled innovative research and development (R&D) approaches in this field, and has led to major pharmaceutical companies retreating from developing novel antimicrobials. However, the recent declaration will allow for innovative and collaborative approaches that would otherwise be considered economically unfeasible.

Junker comments: “There are various ways this may be countered so that the new declaration may be fulfilled, such as uptake-independent payments or prolonged protection from generic erosion for developers.

“Moreover, the development of vaccines against infectious diseases that are currently only being treated with antimicrobials could be encouraged by the guarantee of reimbursement once the vaccine qualifies under predetermined conditions.”

Incentivising the industry without directly paying companies

GlobalData believes that another approach could be to incentivise the industry without directly paying companies for their R&D, by improving the funding of supranational collaborations between for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Junker continues: “Ambitious collaborations between governments, international organizations, companies, and charitable foundations are certainly possible, as exemplified by the remarkable success of the vaccine MenAfriVac, which nearly eliminated the prevalence of invasive serogroup A meningococcal disease in 26 Sub-Saharan countries.

“However, these partnerships are a delicate balancing act. They must be forged carefully in order to minimize the economic risks for drug developers, while also presenting incentives, and they should also not completely shift the inherent risk of novel antibiotic R&D from the pharmaceutical industry to academia or non-profits.”

The analyst concludes that the complexity and severity of the problem demonstrates that if the threat of antimicrobial resistance is to be effectively managed, a combination of scientific, regulatory, and economic reforms on the international level will need to be leveraged.

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