Pressure grows for funding to tackle ‘silent pandemic’ of antimicrobial resistance

Political will is needed to address absence of sufficient financial incentives for new drugs


Andrew Jack, Financial Times

Nov 18, 2021


Half a century after he helped oversee the launch of amoxicillin, one of the world’s most widely used antibiotics, Bill Burns has come out of retirement to support an initiative to develop urgently needed replacements.


While Covid-19 has put the spotlight on the threat posed by new viruses, Burns is just as worried about the underlying “silent pandemic” of antimicrobial resistance.


As chair of the $1bn AMR Action Fund — which supports companies conducting later-stage trials of experimental drugs — he is next year set to approve the first in a series of grants to underwrite companies’ tests of experimental new antibiotics.


But the pharma industry veteran is concerned that the fund’s efforts to provide these “push incentives” will not be enough. Many pharmaceutical groups have withdrawn from the field, and several fledgling biotech companies that developed new drugs in recent years have stumbled or failed because of low revenues.


“You’ve got a broken business model,” Burns says...