Germany together with a number of countries and foundations today pledged EUR 56.5 million to help develop new treatments to fight against antibiotic resistance, during a fundraising event for the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), hosted in Berlin by the German Federal Ministry of Health and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Hermann Gröhe, Federal Minister of Health, Germany, said: “Despite the growing problem of global antibiotic resistance, very few new antibiotics have entered the market in the last decades. In response, the G20 under Germany’s presidency has pledged to invigorate research and development efforts to find new drugs. The fact is that we cannot do without antibiotics. The additional EUR 56 million in funding made available today for the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) is a major step forward in the fight against the global health risk that antibiotic resistance presents.”
Dr Georg Schütte, Permanent State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education and Science, Germany, said: “The Federal Ministry of Education and Research will provide substantial funding for the ‘Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership’ (GARDP) over the next years because we are absolutely convinced of the need for international collaboration to achieve significant progress in critical areas of health research. Germany considers international product development partnerships like GARDP an important tool in the rapid and successful development of urgently needed new antibiotics and diagnostics.”
GARDP was established in May 2016 as a not-for-profit research and development initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). Funding will support GARDP’s four programme areas:
- Sexually-transmitted Infections: GARDP has developed a roadmap to treat STIs, starting with a focus on gonorrhoea. In July 2017, in its first partnership with a company, GARDP announced its plans to co-develop zoliflodacin, one of the few drugs in the pipeline to treat drug resistant gonorrhoea, in a global Phase III clinical trial. Latest WHO data shows that more than 60% of countries surveyed across the world have reported resistance to the last-line antibiotic.
- Antimicrobial Memory Recovery and Exploratory programme: The Memory Recovery programme will engage more than 100 world-class experts in its bid to recoup essential knowledge and lost memory of abandoned antibiotic development projects to help identify new drug opportunities. A digital hub, “REVIVE”, will provide a space for experts and new researchers to network and learn.
- Neonatal Sepsis: An estimated 214,000 neonatal sepsis deaths each year are believed to result from drug-resistant infections. GARDP will initiate work to develop new treatment regimens for babies with neonatal sepsis.
- Paediatric Antibiotic Platform: Currently in development, this programme aims to optimize current treatments and accelerate the development of new antibiotics specifically adapted for children, through an R&D programme which expects to include a network of clinical trials.
While antibiotic drug resistance is a recognized global public health threat, there are not enough new innovative treatments in the clinical pipeline that can overcome increasing resistance. Over the last thirty years, a combination of complex science, diminished return on investment led many companies to abandon their antibiotic development programmes.
Dr Manica Balasegaram, Director of GARDP, said: “GARDP is extremely grateful for this significant funding which will support the implementation of our four programmes. With this support we can take concrete strides in making our vision a reality, reaching our goal of delivering up to four new treatments by 2023, and striving to improve the lives of all patients who need affordable and effective new antibiotics.”
Dr Hajime Inoue, Special Representative of the WHO Director General on Antimicrobial Resistance, said: “There are still very few breakthrough innovations in the pipeline for new antibiotics. We must continue to invest in new models of fostering development of new antibiotics to tackle priority pathogens, including tuberculosis. This is why the World Health Organization has partnered with DNDi to set up GARDP and we are grateful to see the financial support of so many countries.”
Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi, said: “We are encouraged by this clear sign of the formidable political will to invest in alternative models for researching and developing new treatments to address drug-resistant infections and antibiotic resistance, and wish to thank the strong leadership of Germany and the support from the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Luxembourg, Monaco, the United Kingdom, the Wellcome Trust and CARB-X.”
Pledges announced at the Berlin event include support from the Netherlands (EUR 2 million), Switzerland (CHF 500,000 over 2 years – EUR 440.000), South Africa (ZAR 6 million over 3 years – EUR 390,000), the Wellcome Trust (up to GBP 1 million), Luxembourg (EUR 100,000), United Kingdom (up to GBP 1 million) and Germany EUR 51,35 million.
Edith Schippers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport of The Netherlands, said: “We know that the current business models for the development of new antibiotics do not work. We have to work on new models that result in relevant and affordable products that are used in a responsible way. This is exactly what GARDP will do, and why The Netherlands has supported GARDP from the beginning. It was a good decision from the G20 to lead on this topic and I am more than happy to contribute. Let’s hope that others will join soon: it is time to walk the talk.”
Pascal Strupler, Director-General of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, said: “Switzerland has been supporting GARDP from its beginning. It is important that the initiated projects can be pursued successfully. Coordination and cooperation in the field of antibiotic-research on a global level is decisive and an important part of the Swiss National Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance. Hence, Switzerland extends its support for GARDP for another two years until 2019 with half a million Swiss francs.”
Steve Brine, Public Health Minister of the UK government, said: “AMR is the biggest global health threat we face and we know infections don’t respect borders so a united international effort is essential. The UK warmly welcomes Germany’s leadership on AMR through its G20 Presidency, and we will play an active role in supporting these and other initiatives, including through our Call to Action conference next month. This initiative builds on our domestic and international commitments including our work to improve surveillance in developing countries, strong advocacy at the UN, investment to boost innovative research and progress on lowering inappropriate use of antibiotics in animals and humans.”
Professor Glenda Gray, President & CEO of the South African Medical Research Council, said: “Our accelerated resolve to antimicrobial resistance, as medical researchers and innovative thinkers, is to guide our strategies and interventions by the need to positively impact on the lives of people. The status quo of this local and global challenge requires a collective sense of urgency to invigorate public-private partnerships as a plan to prevent us from losing control over the situation.”
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Lydia Mutsch, Minister of Health of Luxembourg, said: “Luxembourg is proud to support the work of GARDP. GARDP helps us to give a concrete expression to our political will to address antimicrobial resistance and to gear up efforts at an international level. I am convinced that our support will generate a new moment in the global fight against AMR.” Romain Schneider, Minister of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid of Luxembourg added, “If we want to combat AMR as a global threat, the investment in favour of the development of new and improved antibiotic treatments, as well as their delivery to both industrialised and developing countries is key. It is our shared responsibility to support the ambitious objectives of GARDP at a global level.”
Yordanos Pasquier, Senior Programme Officer, Office of International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Monaco, said: “The Principality of Monaco salutes and encourages the global efforts to address the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance. The Principality of Monaco expresses its support for the research and development for the treatment of drug-resistant infections and antibiotic resistance. To this end, beginning in 2019, Monaco will partner with GARDP and South Africa on the Neonatal Sepsis programme.”
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: “We must all work together to address the deadly threat of drug-resistant infections – which already kill 700.000 people a year. Wellcome is delighted to work with Germany and other partners to ensure communities around the world are better protected against this and other serious health threats. As part of this we are initially committing up to £1 million to support GARDP. We applaud Germany’s leadership on global health, including through the G20, and the progress made since the launch of GARDP last year. We look forward to collaborating with all the global partners to address the urgent threat of drug-resistant infections.”
Kevin Outterson, Executive Director, Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), said: “GARDP is a key part of the global battle against drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X and GARDP are working closely together to provide expert help to research teams and to strengthen support for promising research through the Antibiotic R&D Hub. Additionally, CARB-X is eager to receive applications for funding from GARDP for research projects that will help build our robust global pipeline of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections.”
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Launched in May 2016 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), GARDP aims to develop and deliver new treatments for bacterial infections where drug resistance is present or emerging, or for which inadequate treatment exists, while endeavouring to ensure sustainable access. In its 2017-2023 Business Plan, GARDP aims to develop up to four new treatments through the improvement of existing antibiotics and acceleration of the entry of new chemical entities.
GARDP is incubated by DNDi, which currently provides GARDP’s governance. GARDP would like to acknowledge its seed donors, the German Federal Ministry of Health, UK Department for International Development, Médecins Sans Frontières, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and South African Medical Research Council, without whose support it could not have started.