Big pharma steps up in the fight against AMR

Among the government and association stewardship programs aimed at curbing the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) problem, are big pharma. Their historical role in the global AMR crisis cannot be denied, so what are they doing to help curb this threat? According to an independent assessment of pharmaceutical company action on AMR by the Access to Medicine Foundation,¹ big pharma is stepping up to help in the fight against AMR, with four key areas of focus.

AMR surveillance

Fighting AMR requires knowing which pathogens are becoming resistant and where. Of the 19 companies that have openly committed to help curbing AMR, 9 are putting efforts into AMR surveillance programs, with 19 programs currently running across 147 countries. Some companies are even presenting their data at conferences, and publishing in journals and online.

Capping the discharge of AMR waste

Although there is currently no consensus on how much antibiotic discharge is too much, we can agree that discharging antibiotics into the environment is a major factor contributing to AMR. Of the 18 companies analysed in the report, 8 have set limits to the amount of antibiotics they discharge through wastewater and a further 4 have set the same limits for their suppliers’ sites. Interestingly, none of these 8 companies has published discharge levels.

New antibiotics on the horizon

The report identified 175 antibiotics targeting priority pathogens in the pipeline, with 28 in the late stages of development. However, of these 28, only 2 have stewardship and access plans in place to ensure they are appropriately accessible and used.

Decoupling salary bonuses from antibiotic sale According to the report, antibiotic sales have been linked to both overuse and salary incentives for sales representatives. Remove the bonus and you remove the incentive to oversell drugs, thereby reducing overuse. Using this logic, 4 pharmaceutical companies have scrapped a volume-based sales bonus and are looking at alternative avenues to reward staff.

And who are these companies taking initiative to help fight AMR, I hear you ask? The biggest supporters against AMR include GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Shionogi and Merc & Co.

Nidhi Sodhi
Science Writer

This article appeared in the Australian Veterinary Journal: Aust Vet J 2018;96(3):N13


  1. Access to Medicine Foundation. First independent  assessment of pharmaceutical company action on AMR: Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark  2018. Accessed January 2018.

     Privacy Policy  |  Disclaimer  |  Contact us