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News Archive

  • 04.23.2020  |  COVID-19 May Worsen the Antibiotic-Resistance Crisis

    WIRED | As the COVID-19 pandemic moves across the world, growing evidence suggests that it may drag a second slow-motion pandemic behind it. Even though COVID-19 is a viral illness not affected by antibiotics, early data from hospitals shows that most patients—more than 90 percent in some cohorts—are being treated with drugs to cure or protect against secondary infections during respiratory illnesses or hospitalization. As a result, COVID-19 could potentially whomp up antibiotic resistance, which is already a crisis, WIRED contributor Maryn McKenna writes. The vast international mobilization to do something about the new coronavirus—identify existing drugs, work up new treatments, achieve a vaccine—might paradoxically offer hope for antibiotic research. The hope is that policy makers might finally appreciate how vulnerable we all are to new viruses or bacterial infections, and the need to invest in new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics in advance. In the context of COVID-19, antibiotics should be considered as important as protective gowns or facemasks. It is part of our defense for any pandemic situation.

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  • 04.22.2020  |  Drug-resistant superbugs: A global threat intensified by the fight against coronavirus

    THE CONVERSATION | With the world’s attention on COVID-19, Lori Burrows, Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University in Canada, writes that now is a good time talk about another pandemic: antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and the lessons that can be learned to better address AMR. AMR is a slower-moving pandemic than COVID-19, but one that is worsening every day. A recent report by the Council of Canadian Academies said that in 2018, more than a quarter of all infections in Canada were resistant to first-line drugs. In that one year alone, 5,400 people died in Canada as a direct result of resistant infections. Drug resistance bacteria is spreading every day, killing an estimated 700,000 people each year.

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  • 04.17.2020  |  Antibiotic treatment for COVID-19 complications could fuel resistant bacteria

    SCIENCE | There is rising concern that the COVID-19 pandemic could ultimately lead to a surge in antibiotic-resistant bacteria—a concern serious enough that the US Department of Defense (DOD) is assembling a group of at least 10 medical centers to study secondary bacterial and fungal infections in COVID-19 patients and the antibiotics being used to prevent them. Recent studies show that nearly all serious cases of COVID-19 are treated with antibiotics. Many COVID-19 patients die of secondary infections rather than the virus itself, growing evidence suggests. And there is evidence that some secondary infections are caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

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  • 04.17.2020  |  Recognizing the value of anti-infectious drugs

    REPAIR IMPACT FUND | The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major wakeup call for the world that our battle with infectious diseases is far from over. Drug-resistant bacteria are on a dangerous growth curve – a much slower one than COVID-19, but deadly none the less. Making matters worse, the business model for the development of new antibiotics is broken, and companies that have developed new treatments are going bankrupt. Alex Engel, Partner at Novo Holdings and Director of the REPAIR Impact Fund writes that it is urgent that we recognize the value of anti-infectives to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections, and he calls on governments to move forward with programs that reward value to human health and approval of novel antibiotics rather than the volume of use.

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  • 04.15.2020  |  How do you put a price on pull incentives for antibiotics? How do you value them? How much and why?

    AMR SOLUTIONS | Recent discussions about the UK pilot subscription model (newsletter and FAQ newsletter) and a new article by Chantal Morel and colleagues in Nature’s The Journal of Antibiotics on the idea of an Antibiotic Susceptibility Bonus raise the issue of how society should value a particular antibiotic for a pull incentive. In this article, John Rex and Kevin Outterson present a comprehensive summary of key references on ways to value antibiotics.

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  • 04.07.2020  |  COVID-19: Role of superinfections in novel coronavirus deaths highlights urgent need for sustainable development of new antibiotics

    ISDA GLOBAL HEALTH | To date, there are limited data on superinfections associated with the novel coronavirus SAR-CoV-2. A handful of published reports, however, largely from China, suggest that bacterial and fungal superinfections may occur in a significant percentage of patients with severe COVID-19, and that these infections are caused at least in some hospitals by antimicrobial-resistant, nosocomial pathogens. Based on these reports, Dr. Neil J. Clancy writes in an ISDA blog there are suggestions that SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to immune system dysregulation in severe infections, which may leave patients vulnerable to bacterial or fungal proliferation, and that critically ill patients, especially those in intensive care units or receiving mechanical ventilation, are at markedly increased risk for bacterial and fungal infections, independent of COVID-19.

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  • 03.23.2020  |  Antibiotic resistance : the hidden threat lurking behind COVID-19

    STAT | Already, some studies have found that 1 in 7 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has acquired a dangerous secondary bacterial infection, and 50% of patients who have died had such infections. The challenge of antibiotic resistance could become an enormous force of additional sickness and death across our health system as the toll of coronavirus pneumonia stretches critical care units beyond their capacity, warns former CDC director Julie Gerberding in this opinion piece.

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  • 03.13.2020  |  Responding to COVID-19 — A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic?

    NEJM | In this insightful commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Bill Gates writes that governments have a central leadership role to play not only in dealing with the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in creating a sustainable system to improve the way we respond to outbreaks in general, and to keep outbreaks from happening again. The long-term challenge — improving our ability to respond to outbreaks — isn’t new. Global health experts have been saying for years that another pandemic whose speed and severity rivaled those of the 1918 influenza epidemic was a matter not of if but of when. This article provides a roadmap to how society can meet the challenge.

     

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  • 03.13.2020  |  Coronavirus COVID-19 nears fatal tipping point when lungs are inflamed

    BLOOMBERG NEWS | The coronavirus causes little more than a cough if it stays in the nose, throat or lungs. In serious cases, the COVID-19 virus may also result in secondary bacterial infection, including infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria. We need antibiotics in the toolkit to defeat the effects of COVID-19 and save lives.

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  • 02.24.2020  |  What Are Superbugs? Silent, Invisible Killer Can Be Squashed With Global Efforts For New Antibiotics

    INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES | The spread of superbugs could change modern medicine as we know it, as common infections and injuries once again become death sentences. Antimicrobials are essential to modern medicine. If antibiotics lose their efficacy, routine surgeries like hip replacements and treatments like chemo or radiation therapy will become too risky. Already, in India, more leukemia patients perish from bloodstream infections than from the cancer itself. Drug-resistant bacteria kill 700,000 people each year and unless scientists develop new treatments, drug-resistant microbes will kill many more every year. World leaders respond to this threat — before it’s too late. In this article, Kevin Outterson and John Rex call on the US, as a global leader in drug development, to take action. A first step would be to pass the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms (DISARM) Act. They also call for the establishment of a system that would reward researchers who successfully develop new antibiotics. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a UK-commissioned global AMR analysis, recommends a market entry award of at least $1 billion for any company that brings a novel antimicrobial to market.

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  • 02.21.2020  |  Evaluating for-profit public benefit corporations as an additional structure for antibiotic development and commercialization

    SCIENCE DIRECT | Antibiotics are a key infrastructure underpinning modern medicine, but evolution will continue to undermine their effectiveness, requiring continuous investment to sustain antibiotic effectiveness. The antibiotic R&D ecosystem is in peril, moving towards collapse. Key stakeholders have identified pull incentives such as Market Entry Rewards or subscription models as the key long-term solution. If substantial pull incentives become possible, there is every reason to expect that for-profit companies will return to the antibiotic field. However, the political and financial will to develop such incentives may be difficult to muster in the timeframes needed to prevent further diminishment of antibiotic R&D, especially if large drug companies are seen as substantial beneficiaries of these taxpayer-funded pull incentives. Bridging solutions are required in the interim. This analysis, authored by Kevin Outterson and John Rex, explores potential solutions led by private actors, including (1) traditional for-profit companies; (2) non-profit enterprises; and (3) public benefit corporations with lower profit expectations, akin to a public utility. All face similar commercial struggles, but nonprofits and public benefit corporations can accept lower profit expectations.

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  • 02.21.2020  |  Sepsis is more common, costly and deadly than previously thought

    HHS | A new study by researchers from the US Department of Health and Human Services.has found that sepsis is more common and costly than previously understood. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s extreme response to an infection. The study shows that U.S. hospitals saw a 40 percent increase in the rate of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with sepsis over the past seven years, and in just 2018 had an estimated cost to Medicare of more than $41.5 billion. “Sepsis is a lethal and costly health threat affecting Americans’ lives and our economy, yet many Americans may have never heard of it,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec. “Any infection can lead to sepsis, including infections caused by influenza or emerging diseases like coronaviruses, which makes sepsis a significant concern in public health emergencies.”

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  • 02.14.2020  |  MCR-1 colistin resistance gene identified in Wyoming hospital patient

    CDC and WDH | A urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria carrying the MCR-1 colistin resistance gene was identified in a Wyoming hospital patient in early 2019, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The patient had a history of recurrent UTIs. Admission urine culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing identified the infecting pathogen as carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase production. Further testing identified resistance to 16 antibiotics, as well as colistin, and identified a plasmid-mediated MCR-1 gene. It was not determined where the patient might have acquired the organism. The first US patient carrying MCR-1 was identified in Pennsylvania in July 2016, and since then MCR-1-carrying isolates have been identified in 20 other US states. Colistin is considered a last-resort antibiotic.

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  • 02.08.2020  |  Drugs From Bugs: Why Gates, Zuck And Benioff Think The Next Blockbusters Will Come From Inside Your Gut

    FORBES | A growing body of scientific research over the last 15 years has highlighted the crucial role the microbiome plays in human health. That new understanding could lead to breakthrough treatments for a huge range of illnesses, from digestive ailments and food allergies to cancer, serious infections and even autism. More than 50,000 scientific papers in the last five years have explored the microbiome’s effects. Various kinds of gut bacteria appear to stimulate or suppress immune responses in the body, while others seem to fight off disease-causing microbes. A groundswell of cutting-edge research has the potential to deliver a burst of new therapies that will vastly reduce human suffering—and generate huge paydays for the field’s pioneers. This article take at why some people are excited about the possibilities.

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  • 01.25.2020  |  The antimicrobial crisis: enough advocacy, more action

    THE LANCET | On the 30th anniversary of the World Economic Forum, The Lancet editorial board calls on governments and agencies to act to address the global threat of drug resistant bacteria.

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  • 01.23.2020  |  WHO Warns That Pipeline for New Antibiotics Is Running Dry

    NEW YORK TIMES | The World Health Organization has issued a fresh warning about the global threat of drug resistant infections. In two new reports — one that analyzed products being tested on patients and another that looked at therapies in the early stages of development — the WHO cited grim economic realities that have been strangling the few remaining companies working on the development of antimicrobial therapies.

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  • 01.17.2020  |  AMR Industry Alliance 2020 Progress Report: Successes and Setbacks in Fighting Superbugs

    AMR | The AMR Industry Alliance report provides a snapshot of the life science industry’s collective efforts in delivering on  commitments to tackle the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Results from the Alliance’s survey of biotech, diagnostics, generic and large research-based biopharmaceutical companies are mixed. Positive results include sustained investment in early R&D and diagnostics for AMR-related products (including antibiotics, antifungals, vaccines) and strides in responsible manufacturing of antibiotics. Worryingly, low levels of investment for later and more costly stages of R&D for AMR-related products may mean that promising early-stage compounds will never reach patients unless governments put in place new mechanisms and incentives for antibiotic development.  

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  • 01.16.2020  |  Reframing the antimicrobial resistance crisis

    THE HILL | Antimicrobials are special among classes of pharmaceuticals for several reasons, including their use in the treatment and prevention of infections, and also as a vital component of the medical countermeasures to be used during a biological attack. In this opinion piece, authors Dr. Amesh A. Adalja and Greg Salmieri argue that the antimicrobial market is in crisis and governments need to radically change the philosophical and moral way they view the development and delivery of new products to patients. The treatment and control of infectious diseases is historically one of the most civilizing and life-enhancing activities undertaken by humans. It deserves to be recognized and monetarily valued as such.

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  • 01.14.2020  |  The Broken Business of Antibiotics – a WSJ podcast on economic problems faced by antibiotics companies

    WALL ST JOURNAL and GIMLET MEDIA | WSJ’s Denise Roland explains the complex challenges facing antibiotics companies attempting to bring urgently needed new antibiotics onto the market.  17 minutes with ads. The world desperately needs new antibiotics to tackle the rising threat of drug-resistant superbugs, but there is little reward for doing so.

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  • 01.12.2020  |  Estimating the Size of the U.S. Market for New Antibiotics with Activity against Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae

    AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY | New antibiotics with activity against carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) improve outcomes of CRE-infected patients. However, companies developing these drugs have faced financial difficulties. Sales of ceftazidime-avibactam, meropenem-vaborbactam, and plazomicin in the United States totaled $101 million from February 2018 to January 2019. The authors estimate that the current annual U.S. market for new anti-CRE antibiotics is an estimated $289 million. Without new antibiotic development models and/or reimbursement reform, the majority of anti-CRE drugs will be commercially inviable.

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  • 01.08.2020  |  ContraFect stock price doubles after Pfizer buys $3 million stake in company

    BARRON’S | Like all publicly traded antibacterial product developers, ContraFect had a rough year in 2019. The biotech firm (ticker: CFRX), which is focused on discovering and developing so-called direct lytic agents to treat life-threatening infectious diseases, including staphylococcus that is resistant to antibiotics, saw its stock price fall to 27 cents in August from $1.53 at the end of 2018. ContraFect, which has two projects funded by CARB-X, got a boost in December when Pfizer took a $3-million stake in the company. Its stock price has now bucked the trend among antibacterial product developers and is rallying.

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  • 01.07.2020  |  Antibiotics need a special place in the US drug pricing debate

    STAT NEWS | In this commentary, Pew Charitable Trust’s Allan Coukell warns that the rise of antibiotic resistance is inevitable as pathogens evolve to resist every existing antibiotic, and that if we allow the pipeline to dwindle, the price won’t be just in dollars, it will also be in lives lost. He urges the US congress to move swiftly to enact a package of economic incentives ‘to reinvigorate the stagnant pipeline of antibiotics. He also urges the US government to move forward with the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms (DISARM) Act of 2019, which could help ease the pressures working against new antibiotics in the US healthcare system. No single policy change will stem the exodus of investment from research on new antibiotics. But incentives such as these, combined with existing federal and public-private programs to defray research and development costs, are essential to turning the tide.

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  • 01.05.2020  |  Antibiotic Marketing and Pipeline Shortages in the Era of Stewardship: An Industry Perspective

    CONTAGIONLIVE | An industry overview of the economic and market challenges that antibiotics developers face, and the growing unmet medical need from drug-resistant bacterial infections.

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  • 01.05.2020  |  How to Combat Antibiotic Resistance: 5 Priorities for 2020

    PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS | PEW’s antibiotic-resistance team examines the latest CDC findings on drug-resistant infections in the US and proposes 5 ways to combat resistance in 2020. The CDC report underscores the urgency of the threat, and need to maintain the fight against superbugs

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