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September 2011
Policy and Advocacy
Policy Conference Addresses Lack of New Antibiotics

Leaders from the medical and public health community, government, and the pharmaceutical industry earlier this month convened in Washington, D.C., to discuss the critical need for antibiotic development, current challenges limiting innovation, and what can be done to address this public health crisis.

The Sept. 22 conference, “Reviving the Pipeline of Lifesaving Antibiotics: Exploring Solutions to Spur Innovation,” was organized by IDSA, the Pew Health Group, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). (An archived webcast of the day-long conference is available online. An edited version will also be available on the IDSA website in the near future.)

Several IDSA members participated. David Gilbert, MD, FIDSA, chair of IDSA’s Antimicrobial Availability Task Force, described the urgent medical need, including preliminary results from a survey of ID physicians conducted by the Emerging Infections Network. Sixty-two percent of respondents reported seeing at least one infection caused by an organism resistant to all available agents. More than half of these respondents, 55 percent, said that the number of such cases had increased during the past two years.

Helen Boucher, MD, FIDSA, a member of the Antimicrobial Availability Task Force, spoke about the scientific and regulatory challenges hindering antibiotic development and outlined IDSA’s recommendations. (See the Society’s April 2010 policy paper, "Combating Antimicrobial Resistance: Policy Recommendations to Save Lives.”)

A session at the conference also addressed the failure of the marketplace to stimulate new antibiotic development. Panelists discussed how various incentives could stimulate development at different stages (e.g., discovery vs. clinical) by different players, including large and small companies.

The event was an outgrowth of IDSA’s 10 x ’20 initiative, launched in 2010 to spur the development of 10 new systemic antibiotics by 2020 and a sustainable antibiotic research and development enterprise for the long-term.

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