AstraZeneca CEO Talks “Superbugs”

AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan will give a speech Wednesday about the need for the pharmaceutical industry and the non-profit sector to collaborate to come up with more effective antibiotics.

Speaking at the Asian Business Leaders Summit in London, Brennan will stress the need to tackle the issue of antibiotic resistance – “the emergence and spread of microbes that are resistant to cheap and effective first-choice, or `first-line’ drugs,” as defined by the World Health Organization.

“The reality is that we are not keeping up with the spread of these drug-resistant bacteria,” Brennan says in his prepared remarks. “In the past 30 years, only two new classes of antibiotics have been introduced. I believe it is the combination of scientific, regulatory, and financial challenge that is holding us back. We can overcome those challenges but it will require partnerships that draw on the strengths of both public and private sectors.”

Brennan will note that bacterial resistance threatens to put global health at serious risk, notably in some countries in Asia. For example, China has one of the highest rates of antibiotic resistance in the world.

“There is a long way to go before these diseases are truly conquered,” Brennan will tell the conference. “There will be challenges around access and we will need to work together to find ways forward. For our part, we believe there is real value in investing to tackle these diseases, while governments and wider society need to understand the true costs of failing to tackle them.”

The Guardian previews Brennan’s speech here.

Bonus: A Superbug cartoon here.

– By Tony Jewell