U.S. joins other G20 countries in antimicrobial resistance research initiative

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Infectious Diseases Society of America Senior Global Health Policy Specialist Rabita Aziz sent this dispatch from the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, where she will deliver remarks on behalf of IDSA (which produces this blog) and other organizations, this week.

GENEVA – Calling growing antimicrobial resistance “a crack in the cornerstone of modern medicine, built on centuries of remarkable scientific breakthroughs,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar joined ministers of health from other G20 countries at the launch of a global antimicrobial resistance research and development hub here Tuesday.

At a time when pharmaceutical companies have moved away from development of new drugs to fight infections, the need for research and development to combat antimicrobial resistance is significant, he said, also noting a need for increased development of vaccines and diagnostic tools.

The U.S. is one of 18 countries and organizations in the new international research initiative to combat antimicrobial resistance, which aims to facilitate collaboration on antimicrobial resistance research and development at an international level, identify and prioritize research and development gaps, and promote and facilitate increased investments.

The German government – which is leading efforts to establish the hub and will host the hub’s secretariat at the German Center for Infection Research in Berlin – has pledged 500 million euros for the initiative. It is unclear how much the U.S. will pledge.

“There are 48 new antimicrobial products in development,” Azar said. “But that isn’t sufficient.” He added: “We must remember to steward new tools along with existing tools.”

“Drug-resistant infections not only threaten lives, but also hinder economic growth and even threaten the stability of our countries,” Azar said in a statement to the health assembly, “The United States encourages WHO to continue making anti-microbial resistance a top priority.”

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