U.S. Challenges World to Intensify Global Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance


The United States announced today, during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, The AMR Challenge-the most ambitious global initiative to date to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance (AR or AMR). This unprecedented challenge, led by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), charges pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, food animal producers and purchasers, medical professionals, government health officials, and other leaders from around the world to work together to address antibiotic resistance by:

•    reducing antibiotics and resistance in the environment (e.g. in water and soil); 

•    improving antibiotic use, including ensuring people can access these medicines when they are needed; 

•    developing new vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tests; 

•    improving infection prevention and control; and 

•    enhancing data sharing and data collection.   

HHS Secretary Alex Azar will announce the challenge tonight at a U.S. event co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the United Nations Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and the CDC Foundation. Secretary Azar will unveil the first commitments from more than 100 organizations intent on building on progress against one of the greatest global public health threats. 

“Untreatable infections are the reality for too many families around the world-and in the U.S.” says HHS secretary Alex Azar. “We’ve had some success fighting antibiotic resistance but, if we don’t all act fast together, we will see global progress quickly unravel. Antibiotic resistance isn’t slowing down. Every country and industry has to step up.”

Among the first AMR Challenge commitments received include:

•    As part of the AMR Industry Alliance, generic and research-based pharmaceutical companies have agreed on a framework that promotes responsible antibiotic manufacturing. Antibiotics and their residues can be released (or discharged) into the environment when these drugs are made and can potentially contribute to the emergence and spread of resistance. AMR Industry Alliance companies took a further step by publishing the first list of discharge targets to guide environmental risk assessments for the manufacture of antibiotics. 

•    Walmart U.S. is working with its animal protein suppliers to report antibiotic use throughout its supply chain and will conduct blockchain projects (a ledger of transactions) to improve responsible antibiotic use in farm animals, affecting its more than 5,000 stores and clubs nationwide.

•    NovaDigm Therapeutics is developing a vaccine for Candida auris, an emerging resistant fungal threat that has caused serious illness and death worldwide, to prevent infections.

•    CARB-X will invest $80 million globally by December 2019 to support more than 40 product developers as they pursue new drug classes to treat gram-negative bacteria, new diagnostics to identify new resistance and infections faster, and new treatment alternatives and vaccines. Each award agreement will include commitments to access and stewardship to ensure proper use of these live-saving innovations. 

•    Aetna, whose healthcare network includes 1.2 million health care professionals and more than 5,700 hospitals, commits to partnering with state health departments to provide feedback to providers about their antibiotic prescribing performance and promote vaccinations.

•    Petco commits to not allowing prophylactic use of antibiotics in its supply chain and supporting veterinary oversight for access to antibiotics in its 1,500 locations across the U.S. and online channels.

•    Healthcare systems, which impact care at more than 20,000 healthcare facilities in the U.S. and abroad, are committed to reducing inappropriate antibiotic use-many between 20 and 45 percent-and hundreds have also committed to reducing infections. 

•    Professional clinical societies, representing more than 283,000 providers across U.S. healthcare settings, are committed to improving antibiotic use among their members.

•    Patient representative organizations, representing individuals impacted by antibiotic resistance and sepsis, continue to provide education and awareness to patients and caregivers about this important threat.

•    APHL, ASTHO, and CSTE (see acronyms below) are working with state and local health departments to develop more than 50 tailored commitments that align with each state’s AR threats and goals. 

Tonight’s event will commence a “commitment year” wherein organizations worldwide are invited to take action. Event attendees will include industry and world leaders, including Secretary Azar; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general, World Health Organization;  Dr. Balram Bhargava, director-general at the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi and secretary, Department of Health Research; and Anand Anandkumar, CEO and managing director of Bugworks Research, Inc. 

CDC director Robert Redfield remarks, “We are seeing resistance to life-saving antibiotics, and scientists worldwide are uncovering new types of resistance. Our shared commitment to confront this threat is critical to all American communities and companies, protecting our progress in healthcare outcomes, food production and even life expectancy.”

The U.S. government remains a global leader in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Earlier in September, CDC published The Core Elements of Human Antibiotic Stewardship Programs in Resource-Limited Settings: National and Hospital Levels to help improve antibiotic use in healthcare settings worldwide; and FDA announced its plans to combat antibiotic resistance through antibiotic innovation and antibiotic stewardship in human medicine and animal agriculture. CARB-X, launched in 2016 by ASPR and NIH, continues its investments of more than $500 million by 2021 in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and other life-saving products.  

These activities build on U.S. momentum since 2015 to support the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, including antibiotic use commitments made at the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship. Read more about what the U.S. government is doing to fight AR: https://www.cdc.gov/DrugResistance/us-activities.html.  

Antibiotic resistance has been found in all regions of the world. In the U.S. alone, at least 2 million people get resistant infections each year and at least 23,000 die. 

“Modern travel of people, animals, and goods means antibiotic resistance can easily spread across borders and continents. Antibiotic resistance in one country means antibiotic resistance in every country,” says Azar. “Fighting this threat requires a collaborative global approach across sectors to detect, prevent, and respond to these threats when they occur. Every country, regardless of resources, can take steps to slow antibiotic resistance.”

Read the commitments received to date and learn how to make a formal commitment to the AMR Challenge: https://www.cdc.gov/DrugResistance/intl-activities/amr-challenge.html 

Watch the event live starting at 7 p.m. ET: http://cdn.DigitalServices.online/AMR-Challenge/ 

As of Sept. 24, 2018, 106 organizations have made 99 commitments.

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