New Report: Actions Needed to Step Up Fight Against Superbug Pandemic Detailed

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20 November 2023

A new report from MTPConnect and its Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network (AAMRNet) highlights the threat to human health posed by the rise of drug-resistant infections and presents recommendations that will equip the Australian healthcare system to fight the superbug pandemic.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been recognised by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 public health threats facing humanity with estimates of 10 million people globally dying each year by 2050.

Launched during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, the new report – Fighting superbugs: Ensuring Australia is ready to combat the rise of drug resistant infections has been prepared in response to the Australian Parliament’s report, The New Frontier – Delivering better health for all Australians.

From incentives for more home-grown R&D and globally competitive data and market protections to more point-of-care testing for antimicrobial infections, the new report presents nine evidence-based recommendations for practical steps Australia can take to meet the AMR challenge.

MTPConnect CEO and AAMRNet co-chair Stuart Dignam says the report’s recommendations provide a way forward to begin taking immediate action to tackle this urgent threat to our health system.

“We are running out of effective antibiotics and fast approaching a post-antibiotic era where minor infections, currently easily treated with common antibiotics, may become deadly,” Mr Dignam said.

“The innovation pipeline for new antibiotics is drying-up and just not keeping pace with public health needs.

“The costs of R&D are too high, and the commercial returns are currently too low to justify investment in infectious disease medicine, particularly compared to other therapeutic areas.

“Incentives are clearly required to stimulate investment in new discovery, early clinical trials and, for medicines that show promise, suitable reimbursement pathways.

“We need to act now to change how we fund and pay for novel antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines,” he said.

With expert advice and input from leading Australian and international experts in AMR, the report highlights the need to take urgent action to protect our health from deadly superbugs.

Nine recommendations from the report, Fighting Superbugs, include:

  1. Pilot a subscription model in Australia for two novel antimicrobials
  2. Strengthen existing, and introduce additional, flexible data exclusivity extension options for novel antimicrobials in Australia
  3. Increase the quantum of AMR research funding in Australia
  4. Establish and appropriately fund an Australian AMR accelerator, as well as contribute to and leverage global initiatives such as CARB-X
  5. Continue to promote R&D investment in Australia, including through raising awareness of the Clinical Trial Notification (CTN) scheme and R&D Tax Incentive
  6. Provide accelerated pathways and reduce barriers for the regulatory approval of novel antimicrobials in Australia
  7. Develop fit-for-purpose HTA pathways for antimicrobial medicines as part of the HTA Review currently underway
  8. Identify AMR as Australia’s 11th National Health Priority Area
  9. Encourage uptake of timely point-of-care testing for antimicrobial infections.

The Fighting Superbugs report was developed by specialist health advisory firm Evohealth, authored by Renae Beardmore, Laura Birchall, Yukti Sharma, John Pilla and Lloyd Sansom.

The report will be officially launched today by MTPConnect's Andrew Bowskill, Co-chair AAMRNet at the BioMelbourne Network event BioForum – New Frontiers: Rethinking Antimicrobial Resistance in Melbourne, where an expert panel of speakers will lead an important discussion on the rise of drug-resistant infections. 

About AAMRNet:

Established in 2020 and operated by MTPConnect, AAMRNet is Australia’s leading multistakeholder expert group promoting Australia’s role in combating the urgent threat to human health posed by AMR.