Engagement with pharmaceutical companies
The challenges which pharmaceutical companies are striving to overcome are no less acute, and economic, regulatory and scientific barriers are hindering the discovery and development of novel antibiotics3. Leveraging the Access to Medicine Foundation’s research for its AMR Benchmark, our engagement with pharmaceutical companies is focused on:
Research & Development
– Economic challenges
Manufacturing & production
– Environmental risk management to minimise the risk of antibiotic manufacturing discharge contaminating local water sources
– Transparency on environmental risk management policies and procedures
– Good manufacturing practices, to ensure high-quality antibiotic production
Appropriate Product Stewardship
– Educational programmes
– Brochure and/or packaging adaptations
– AMR surveillance
The majority of the 38 companies we contacted have been very receptive, and we have had in-depth calls with companies based in North America, Europe, and Japan, including major international companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and McDonald’s.
In our experience, companies are well-informed about the risks associated with antibiotic overuse, and it is now unusual for food and pharmaceutical companies not to have an antibiotic policy (or equivalent). This shift is reflected in FAIRR’s project on the restaurant industry: the number of companies with a publicly available antibiotic policy increased from 1 in 2016 to 17 in 2019. However, very few food companies have committed to phase out all routine uses of antibiotics, and there is a widespread lack of transparency.
In contrast, pharmaceutical companies’ transparency on AMR-related issues is comparatively good, and in our dialogue they have been open about how new economic models could stimulate antibiotic development. Collaboration on environmental risk management has increased, enabled via the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI) Audit Sharing Platform, on which supplier audits can be viewed by PSCI members. The AMR Industry Alliance is also having an important impact, including the publication of detailed guidance on how to manage the risk of contamination arising from waste resulting from antibiotic manufacturing processes.
We will build on our dialogue with companies, broadening the scope of our project to include animal health companies, and continue to benchmark best practices and encourage more robust commitments on addressing AMR.
In our next Viewpoint on this topic, we plan to delve into the findings and outcomes of our engagement with both food and pharmaceutical companies, and explain in detail how our collaboration with FAIRR and the Access to Medicine Foundation have informed our approach to engagement with individual companies.