Common Good Summit: “Pfizer is mobilizing against the new threat of antibiotic resistance”

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Written by Doug Hampton

the essential
Interview with Reda Guiha, President of Pfizer France on the occasion of the third edition of the Common Good Summit on June 1 and 2 in Toulouse.

How can the pharmaceutical industry and the common good rhyme?

First within the company, and our CSR commitments, decarbonization, energy and water consumption… Then, for our medicines. We saw it during the pandemic: the common good is our health. In the WHO’s COVAX alliance, we had distributed 40 million doses at cost price, with all the logistics for their administration, storage, training… Ditto within Gavi, the international alliance to accelerate immunization in poor countries – we provide, always at cost, Prevenar13, a vaccine for the prevention of invasive infections, pneumonia and certain ear infections in newborns. Since January, through our initiative A healthier world, Pfizer offers a portfolio of 500 products in 45 low-income countries. Including a large number of antibiotics to reduce the morbidity, mortality and costs of antimicrobial resistance, the new threat.

You say antibiotic resistance is the next pandemic…

For a long time, antibiotics were taken for granted: in modern medicine, they have extended life expectancy by an average of 23 years. Today, according to the OECD, antibiotic resistance costs 1.1 billion euros per year to healthcare systems in Europe. According to a 2022 article in the journal The Lancet, it caused 1.27 million deaths worldwide in 2019, more than AIDS or malaria. As with Covid 19, this is a common cause requiring collective mobilization.

What would be the collaboration model?

The WHO and the big laboratories created in 2020 the AMR action fund, against antimicrobial resistance, endowed with one billion dollars, and in which Pfizer has committed up to 100 million. The ambition is to launch two to four new antibiotics by 2030. Proof that awareness has taken place. But we must also review the economic model because the difficulty for the industry is to create new molecules, while ensuring the manufacture of old products that we still need.

How to resolve this hiatus?

Political will is needed, particularly at European level. I worked on orphan diseases, an area in which France is a pioneer. It has worked for example at the European level, on the extension of patents, from 8 to 10 years, and even to 12 years for pediatric developments. Without these advances, some two million patients would not have had treatment.

It would be nice to have the same approach for antibiotics. With regard to classification – and by extension prices – it has been 40 years since the classes of antibiotics have changed. Germany has reviewed its way of evaluating these molecules, according to the actual benefit (SMR); Sweden has opted for flat-rate remuneration with guaranteed prices, England provides a fixed annual payment for innovative antibiotics… We can draw inspiration from models and harmonize between countries.

Reda Guiha, will speak on the theme of health: “Medicines and the common good”, on the occasion of the 3rd edition of the “Summit of the Common Good”.

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