Berlin: Antibiotic resistance has the potential to cause a global health crisis far worse than COVID-19, a group of global pharmaceutical companies warned Thursday as they ploughed one billion dollars into research to combat the issue.
The 20 companies supporting the project, including industry giants Pfizer, Roche and Bayer, hope to bring up to four new antibiotics to the market by 2030, the IFPMA association of pharmaceutical companies said in a statement.
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a looming global crisis that has the potential to dwarf COVID-19 in terms of deaths and economic costs,” the IFPMA said.
There are currently few new antibiotics in the pipeline because there is no viable market for them, the association said.
Resistance to antibiotics has grown in recent years due to overuse in humans, but also in farm animals.
New antibiotics are used sparingly to preserve effectiveness, leading many companies to stop investing in them due to the lack of commercial sustainability.
The fund will invest in small companies developing antibacterial treatments and will also work with charities, development banks, governments and other organisations.
The antibiotics discovered “could be marketed by these companies, or in partnership with one of the participating groups,” IFPMA director-general Thomas Cueni told AFP.
Around 700,000 people die around the world every year as a result of antibiotic resistance, the IFPMA said.
According to a British study, antibiotic-resistant bacteria could kill up to 10 million people a year by 2050.
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