Reengineering the R&D Value Chain for New Antibiotics
The Program on Global Health and Technology Access has served as the Strategic Policy Unit for ReAct, a global network dedicated to increasing policymaker awareness over antibiotic resistance. The rising burden of drug-resistant infections is a threat facing modern day medical practice, from cancer chemotherapy to organ transplants, and causes significant mortality and undue costs for healthcare systems around the world. ReAct hopes to turn this tide by promoting both innovation for new antibiotics, diagnostics and vaccines, and appropriate use of existing antibiotics. Founded in 2004 through joint efforts of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, the Karolinska Institute, and the Swedish Strategic Program against Antibiotic Resistance (STRAMA), ReAct based at Uppsala University in Sweden received support early in its development from the GHTA Program. Its network links diverse individuals and organizations across Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Australia, in addition to the Program at Duke University. The Program has worked with ReAct on a variety of fronts to develop policy frameworks to enable innovation for R&D for much needed new antibiotics.
Exploring New Business Models for Antibiotic R&D. Nearly 200 scientific and policy experts from around the world participated in the “The Global Need for Effective Antibiotics: Moving towards Concerted Action,” a global meeting focused on innovation of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to manage the challenge of growing antibiotic resistance held in Uppsala in September 2010. The Program played an instrumental role in organizing the conference program and shepherded the writing of proceedings on “Towards New Business Models for R&D for Novel Antibacterials” in Drug Resistance Updates.
The Program called for a new collaborative framework for stimulating antibiotic innovation in a British Medical Journal perspectives piece, “Getting Back to Basics: The 3Rs for Innovating and Conserving Novel Antibiotics—Sharing Resources, Risks, and Rewards.” The paper characterizes both R&D challenges and potential solutions at each stage of the value chain, in addition to proposing strategies with potential to reengineer the value chain.
Charing the WHO expert working group focused on innovation to combat antimicrobial resistance, Dr. So, along with Dr. Shaoyu Chang who was formerly with the Program, contributed the chapter, “Fostering Innovation to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance,” to the WHO publication, “The Evolving Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance—Options for Action.” The paper identifies key scientific and economic bottlenecks along the research pipeline for new antibiotics, as well as innovative research models and incentive structures to overcome these obstacles.
Following the open panel by the three Director-Generals (WIPO-WTO-WHO) at the Trilateral Joint Symposium on “Medical Innovation & Changing Business Models” on July 5, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. So spoke on “Antibiotic Resistance–Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Solutions.”