Antibiotic Resistance – a Threat that Isn’t Going Away

Last week the White House called on Congress to shift leftover Federal funds from the fight against Ebola to the latest and growing infectious disease threat – the Zika virus. Some $590 million would be used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for research on the virus and Zika-related birth defects, as well as building response teams to control the threat. This funding right now is critical, given that the CDC has elevated its warnings regarding the potential threat of the virus to the U.S.  

While the fight against Zika wages on, it is important that we don’t lose sight of another ongoing threat to the U.S. and global communities -- antibiotic resistance. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), and other prominent organizations have identified antibiotic resistance as a global crisis and urgent public health threat.  

Many companies have pulled out of antibiotic development over the past decade, yet Allergan’s commitment in this area remains strong.  We are part of the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship, with multiple industry and non-industry stakeholders focused on implementing changes and policy to slow antibiotic resistance globally. We have also partnered with the CDC on its “Get Smart About Antibiotics” campaign, where we help to raise awareness about the appropriate and responsible use of antibiotics.  Of the six new antibiotics that have been approved since 2010 as part of the IDSA’s 10x20 Initiative, three are Allergan products – AVYCAZ®, DALVANCE®; and TEFLARO®

Innovation in this therapeutic area illustrates the impact of new approaches like Open Science, which source great ideas from across the ecosystem and explore new avenues for treatments and cures for some of society’s most challenging diseases. 

Infectious diseases don’t get as much attention as cancer or Alzheimer ’s disease until there is a significant public health problem. But like many other therapeutic areas, discovery and development of new anti-infective medicines can take more than 10 years and cost $1 billion dollars or more. We can’t wait for this public health threat to reach a crisis level before investing – we must focus our resources and dollars ahead of the problem.   

Innovation is a key part of addressing the global antibiotic resistance threat, which is not going away. This will take continued commitment, focus and funding from our industry, the medical community, government, venture capital and many others. 

Our teams at Allergan are committed to doing our part to address this issue, and I call on all stakeholders to increase investment in anti-infective R&D to address the threat of antibiotic resistance.