Mark Albrecht speaking at World Antimicrobial Resistance Congress
Mark Albrecht, PhD,Chief, Antibacterials Branch, Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Medical Countermeasure Department of Health and Human Services/Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (HHS/ASPR/BARDA)

 

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the AMR space into 2022?

Developers of antibacterial products face significant technical and financial barriers not only during clinical development, but also following licensure and commercial launch. There is often limited private sector funding available to product developers during the advanced stages of development because many investment firms have directed funding to disease areas with greater returns. Following licensure, smaller companies with modest resources often lack access to non-U.S. markets where there is a higher prevalence of antibiotic-resistant infections. Challenges to how newly approved antibiotics are valued means that few products will reach the physicians and patients who need them most. The current funding landscape is likely to result in development stagnation and fewer products to address the threat of AMR now and in the future. Our program at BARDA is working internationally to help the private sector and the healthcare community overcome these barriers.

 

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see occur in the coming year to further combat AMR?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we need to be prepared for future health threats on multiple levels and that coordination between those working in the AMR space is key. With new data outlining the global burden of antibiotic-resistant infections, we can see just how critical it is for us to stay committed to combatting AMR. Ultimately our goal is to provide clinicians and first responders with therapeutics that reduce illness or death caused by antibiotic-resistant infections across populations, and we need strong partnerships to be able to do that. BARDA will continue to support the development and potential procurement of clinically impactful therapies that treat secondary bacterial infections and multidrug-resistant infections that complicate the response and recovery from public health emergencies. In an ideal world, society as a whole would recognize the critical role that antibiotics play in underpinning the practice of modern medicine, and as a result, new antibiotics would be appropriately valued.

 

What would you like to highlight about your work/your organization for this coming year?

This year, BARDA plans to continue supporting transformative, next-generation antibacterial projects that span the development pipeline. We remain committed to providing non-dilutive funding and technical expertise to support the progression of both early-stage candidates and late-stage products that address medical needs and combat AMR infections to save lives. In 2022, we anticipate awarding an agreement for an early-stage antibacterial accelerator and supporting up to two new Project BioShield contracts that enable the potential procurement of products to support the life-saving mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response during public health emergencies.

 

Do you have any predictions for the AMR space in 2022 and beyond? Any calls-to-action you’d like to highlight?

Because AMR remains a major global public health threat, global partnerships will be critical going forward. At BARDA, we fully recognize that partnerships are the backbone that have led to the licensure of new antibacterial products and the growth of the pipeline of preclinical and clinical candidates necessary to address the threat of AMR. We anticipate that new global partnerships through an antimicrobial development accelerator like CARB-X, the AMR Action Fund, BARDA’s Advanced Research and Development portfolio, and Project BioShield (Request for Proposals Announced on January 20, 2022) will enable a broader reach and strategic investment in areas with the greatest need.

 

Any additional comments?

BARDA plays a critical role in the federal government’s  National Action Plan for Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB), 2020-2025 . Through the Antibacterials program, BARDA has invested over $1.5 billion in public-private partnerships with industry since 2010, ranging from small biotechnology firms to global pharmaceutical companies. If your organization has a potential innovation that can address antimicrobial resistance or other 21st century health security threats, we hope you’ll reach out to us please use this link  for more information on how to arrange a meeting with BARDA.


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