Did You Miss BBC Radio 4’s Bottom Line About Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance?

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Yesterday 1 June 2019 at 5.30pm the BBC Radio 4 programme The Bottom Line was broadcast. Hosted by the well known BBC presenter Evan Davis, the programme was the first in a new series of this long running business programme. Focussing on why new antibiotics are not being developed, Antibiotic Research UK’s Chief Executive Professor Colin Garner was invited to join the discussion together with Lord Jim O’Neill, the chair of the AMR Review team and Seema Patel of Pfizer UK.

Taking the form of a conversation, Colin argued that the charity sector needs to play a much greater role in tackling AMR and that relying on big pharma to bring new antibiotics to market was unlikely to happen any time soon. Just four big pharma companies are now still involved in antibiotic drug development (down from 12 just five years ago) forecasters are predicting no big pharma companies working in this area by 2025.

Seema argued strongly that until there was adequate reimbursement for new antibiotics then pharma could not afford to engage in the costly development of new antibiotics as they would never get their money back. She mentioned that Pfizer had prepared a White Paper on a reimbursement model but as far as we are aware this is not in the public domain. Estimating the economic worth of antibiotics is notoriously difficult. One could argue that their worth is so large that putting an accurate figure on it is nigh impossible. What would it cost if all the medical treatments that are reliant on antibiotics became more risky if not impossible? How do you calculate the cost for ensuring that many cancer treatments, organ transplants, joint replacement, childbirth, treatment of numerous infections etc can be carried out? The current cost to the NHS for antibiotics is around £200 million but their value to UK patients is probably in the billions of pounds.

Jim O’Neill voiced his frustration that since the publication of his report in the Spring of 2016 very little progress had been made in implementing his reports main recommendations. He suggested that the non-profit sector should step in which is where Antibiotic Research UK comes in. Charities don’t need to make a return and in many disease areas such as malaria, TB, cancer and HIV / AIDS charities have played a pivotal role in introducing new drugs and treatments.

We hope as a result of this progamme that our charity is recognised for the pioneering work we are undertaking. However we cannot carry out this work without funds. We don’t receive a penny of government money – all our funds are donated. Please help us in our battle against superbugs by DONATING

To listen to the Podcast of the programme click HERE