News and Opinions  –  2008–2013

3Rs for innovation novel antibiotics


19 April 2012

The dearth of novel antibiotics poses challenges to the treatment of bacterial infection and points to shortcomings in the system of pharmaceutical innovation. In a recently published article in the British Medical Journal, ”3Rs for innovating novel antibiotics: sharing resources, risks, and rewards”, Anthony So and colleagues in ReAct present an analysis on what can be done to increase innovation.

Anthony So, ReAct Strategic Policy & Advocacy.
Anthony So, ReAct Strategic Policy & Advocacy.

The way forward will involve a dynamic mix of public-private partnership with solutions that tackle both scientific and financial bottlenecks in the pipeline. Sharing resources, risks, and rewards each suggest operating principles against which to benchmark potential solutions.

For starters, sharing resources should extend the bounds for exploratory research and shift the line between precompetitive and competitive information. Sharing risks should extend public sector science and build infrastructure for collaborative research and development, and sharing rewards should delink financial returns from sales of the product and ensure fair returns for the public sharing of risks in investing in research and development.

Drawing on lessons from R&D into rare and neglected diseases, the paper emphasizes the public sector’s role and underscores the importance of finding a path that meets the needs of those in North and South.

Read the article on the BMJ website.

Further reading

Antibiotic drug research and development. Should it be funded through public-private partnerships to succeed? by Jean-Pierre Paccaud, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). Editorial in BMJ, April 11, 2012.
Collaboration for innovation—the urgent need for new antibiotics. ReAct policy seminar, 23 May 2011, Brussels, Belgium. Report from the meeting (PDF, 4MB).