Preparing for the Next Global Health Crisis: The Rise of Antimicrobial Resistance


On  October 20, the Meridian Center for Diplomatic Engagement hosted a virtual roundtable discussion  with  leading experts in the  antimicrobial resistance  (AMR)  field.  In partnership with Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the interactive briefing  focused on  the global impact of AMR on health security,  the  actions, and investments needed from the public and private sectors, and  highlighted national strategies from countries leading the way in AMR policy. A  Diplocraft program, the dialogue served as the  second  event for Meridian and PhRMA’s innovation and trade  series. The  first event  was  held in  July on the global race to develop a viable coronavirus vaccine.  

Moderated by Andrew Jacobs, Health and Science reporter, New York Times, the  program  featured  the  following speakers: 

Dame Sally Davies
U.K. Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance , Co-Convener of the UN Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR , Master of Trinity College

Dr.  Larry Kerr
Director, Office of Pandemics and Emerging Threats, Office of Global Affairs , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr.  Hans-Ulrich Holtherm, MSc
Head of Directorate-General, Health Security, Health Protection, and Sustainability , German Federal Ministry for Health 

Dr. Julie L. Gerberding
Executive Vice President, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health, Chief Patient Officer , Merck 

1. A WAKE UP CALL COLLECTIVE GLOBAL ACTION. An estimated 700,000 people die per year globally due to drug-resistant infections. As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, attention has turned to growing global health threats like the preventable threat of drug-resistant superbugs, which at the global scale has the potential to eclipse COVID-19 in fatalities. This is an opportunity to use political momentum and leadership and mobilize on every single level. Speakers emphasized multisectoral action, the importance of a coordinated global response, and relayed a common theme of urgency: the time to act on AMR is now.

2. ONE HEALTH APPROACH. The complex driving forces behind the rise of drug-resistant superbugs requires a holistic and integrated response. The U.S. National Action Plan underscores the One Health approach with policy recommendations that acknowledge the interconnectedness between the health of people, animals, plants, and the environment. This plan engages the U.S. government agencies that oversee these different sectors and promotes collaboration and communication among them. The strong relationship between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has resulted in better stewardship of antibiotics fed to food-producing animals and is just one example of collaboration between government departments and agencies.  

3. THE ANTIBIOTIC PARADOX. Despite the urgent need for new antibiotics and antifungals, the market for them is broken. The overall economic environment remains challenging for the development of new drugs and it’s clear that more investments are needed to drive a sustainable and robust research and development ecosystem. Speakers emphasized the importance of policymakers and industry working together to find new ways to pay for these lifesaving drugs that more accurately reflect their worth to global health and to create a regulatory environment that supports innovation.  

4. THE AMR ACTION FUND. A group of more than 20 leading pharmaceutical companies are working to sustain the antibiotic pipeline with a $1 billion collective investment to bring 2-4 new antibiotics to patients by 2030. Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the European Investment Bank, and the Wellcome Trust, The AMR Action Fund aims bridge the gap until governments can make policy reforms to support the antibiotic pipeline. The Fund will work to strengthen smaller biotech companies and overcome key technical and funding barriers of late-stage antibiotic development.  

5. GLOBAL LEADERS IN THE AMR SPHERE. Political commitment and leadership are critical in driving the AMR agenda forward. As global leaders in the AMR sphere, Germany and the United Kingdom have committed to raising the profile of this public health threat and are leading the way in implementing innovative solutions. Germany has used its presidency of the G7 in 2015 and the G20 in 2017 to include historic commitments to tackling antimicrobial resistance on the global scale. In the UK’s new five-year strategy, it unveiled a “Netflix-style payment” system to better incentivize antibiotic development, a subscription model that offers payment upfront in exchange for access to the antibiotics. The U.S. Congress has also introduced two pieces of legislation this year, DISARM and PASTEUR, that would work together to create a sustainable pipeline for new medicines. 


Project summary

Preparing for the Next Global Health Crisis: The Rise of Antimicrobial Resistance | October 2020
Number of Attendees: 27
Regions: Europe and Eurasia, Western Hemisphere
Countries: Ecuador, France, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom
Impact Areas: Global Health
Program Areas: Diplomacy
Partners: Private Sector