From the time penicillin came onto the market in 1942, antibiotics have enabled diseases to be cured that formerly meant severe impairment or even a death sentence for those suffering from them. Pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis, as well as initially harmless infections, could have resulted in serious complications. Antibiotics continue to play an important role in modern medicine, for example in treating severe infections and preventing infections during surgery or chemotherapy.
Growing antibiotic resistance
In the past few decades, there has been a global increase in the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (i.e. the reduced efficacy of antibiotics) – it is predicted that this will result in ten million deaths annually between now and 2050. Moreover, micro-organisms are increasingly multiresistant, which means that they develop resistance to several classes of antibiotics.
A major factor in this development is the over-frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics in human and also veterinary medicine. The urgency of this global problem is being recognised increasingly in the public and the private sector, and the pharmaceutical industry is also redoubling its efforts to counter growing antibiotic resistance by developing new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches.
Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance Switzerland (StAR)
The Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance Switzerland (StAR) launched in 2015 has adopted measures on several levels with the aim of sustainably safeguarding the efficacy of antibiotics for the treatment of humans and animals. These measures include promotion of the correct use of antibiotics, infection prevention in hospitals, monitoring of resistance and antibiotic consumption, the promotion of research, knowledge transfer and raising awareness in the population at large. Initial success has already become evident, such as the establishment of uniform prescribing guidelines valid throughout Switzerland and an online platform (www.infect.info) that shows the latest regional resistance data.
Interpharma advocates incentives for the research and development of new antibiotics
- Alongside incentives for research, market incentives are equally important. New instruments are needed that ensure new antibiotics are remunerated appropriately irrespective of the quantify actually prescribed.
- New antibiotics should be regarded as insurance against future health risks. When setting prices, consideration should therefore be given not only to the value for patients, but also to the value for society, that is by preventing the propagation of resistance.
- The process for setting tariffs and prices for new antibiotics needs to be simplified and accelerated. Interpharma