Education and additional rapid diagnostics are needed to help save lives, say advocates.
Deaths from antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could reach 10 million annually by 2050, fears a new industry alliance. Diagnostics manufacturers (along with those developing pharmaceutical and biotechnology products) have an important role to play in combating AMR, and these industries have formed an alliance to support such work.
Antibiotics may be losing their effectiveness faster than newer ones are being introduced, reported the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) last year as these industries came together at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 to begin formulating an action plan.
The AMR Industry Alliance officially kicked off this May, when IFPMA Director-General Thomas Cueni announced its launch at the B20 Health Conference in Berlin. "It is estimated that, unless action is taken, the burden of deaths from antimicrobial resistance could be as high as 10 million lives each year by 2050 - more than cancer," claimed the alliance in a May 17 news statement marking the launch.
AdvaMedDx joined the alliance as a board member to raise awareness about diagnostics along with bioMerieux and Labcorp. "Diagnostics play a critical role in any strategy to fight AMR," Tharini Sathiamoorthy, the Vice President of AdvaMedDx, told Qmed. "Diagnostics can help distinguish between infections that require antibiotic treatment and those that do not."
The challenge is that diagnostics are often overlooked, she said. "Rapid diagnostic tests are available," she said, but "one issue we have is that healthcare providers don't always know about them."
In addition, "a number of tests are being underutilized primarily because of reimbursement issues," she added. "There are few incentives to use them under private insurance or CMS. The economic piece on why they should be reimbursed should be improved."
AdvaMedDx encourages diagnostics manufacturers to raise awareness of these issues and to focus on education. "Speak up and go to events and conferences with other stakeholders," she advised. "Make sure discussions include diagnostics, particularly at the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and the World Health Organization."
There is also more work to be done in diagnostics development. "One test that is needed is a rapid diagnostic test to determine whether an infection is bacterial or viral," Sathiamoorthy said.
AdvaMedDx is also embarking on its own separate initiative to fight AMR, a global commitment it announced in January 2017 to drive adoption of diagnostics tests, she added.
In the meantime, the AMR Alliance is developing a set of metrics to gauge progress since more than 100 companies and trade associations came together in Davos in 2016. A progress report is expected to be available in January 2018. The pharma industry also established its own roadmap for a common set of principles for global action that focus on reducing the development of antimicrobial resistance, investing in R&D to meet public health needs, and improving access to antibiotics, vaccines, and diagnostics.
[Image source: Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock]
Daphne Allen is executive editor of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News and a contributor to Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter at @daphneallen