News and Opinions  –  2021

New ReAct report: Governments need to take more leadership to ensure global sustainable access to effective antibiotics

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2021-03-30

While the world is caught up in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has gone largely unnoticed that more than thirty years has passed since the last class of antibiotics was discovered. Meanwhile global consumption of antibiotics continues to increase. In response, bacteria have developed resistance and are spreading as a silent but steady pandemic threatening to devastate healthcare and modern medicine as we know it.

The new ReAct report “Ensuring sustainable access to effective antibiotics for everyone, everywhere – How to address the global crisis in antibiotic Research and Development” includes a comprehensive summary and critical evaluation of recent initiatives to overcome the barriers to achieve sustainable access to antibiotics. As antibiotic resistance will continue to develop as long as we  depend on these medicines to treat bacterial infections, a continuous supply of new effective antibiotics is needed.

Lead author of the report and Deputy Director of ReAct Europe, Helle Aagaard says:

Helle Aagard, Helle Aagaard, Deputy Director, ReAct Europe.

“We are coming off more than 30 years of failure by the pharmaceutical industry to discover new classes of antibiotics. Slight modifications of the traditional market-based R&D model for pharmaceuticals have been insufficient. Governments have to start seriously considering the alternatives, and start exercising far stronger public leadership in testing new ways to overcome the actual challenges.”

Overcoming five key challenges

The report identifies five key challenges that must be solved in order to achieve sustainable access for all, and charts out options for governmental action in response to each of them.

These are:

  • Setting priorities that address the most significant and unmet global health needs
  • Overcoming barriers in the early discovery and research phases
  • Financing late-stage clinical R&D without relying on price and sales revenues of the end-product
  • Ensuring sustainable production, quality, procurement, and registration of novel antibiotics
  • Ensuring sustainable access to new antibiotics in countries

An opportunity to build back better

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed systemic and deeply unacceptable global health inequalities, where rich countries get access first, and poor countries are left depending on charity. In this regard, the overall broken model for antibiotic R&D offers an opportunity to build back better for the global community by creating a comprehensive end-to-end model which by design is intended to serve the health needs of rich and poor. ReAct calls on governments to adopt a vision to achieve sustainable access to effective antibiotics for everyone, everywhere.

Otto Cars, founder of ReAct.

“Ensuring sustainable access to effective antibiotics for everyone in need, implies that new antibiotics should be available, affordable and managed to preserve their effectiveness for as long as possible in all countries. That means that low- and middle income countries must have a seat at the table when rules are set and priorities are made to ensure that no one is left behind”, says Professor Otto Cars, Senior Advisor and Founder of ReAct.

For further information please contact:

Therese Holm, Media and Communications Manager: therese.holm@medsci.uu.se
Helle Aagaard, Lead Author: helle.aagaard@medsci.uu.se
Anna Zorzet, Author: anna.zorzet@medsci.uu.se


This year ReAct is celebrating 15 years of action on antibiotic resistance and the launch if this report is part of this celebration!

The story of ReAct started 15 years ago with a small group of people, many who are still with the network today. They all shared a passion for global health, and felt the urgency to adress the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. The network has since grown, with the presence of offices in 5 continents and many passionate members working together. Learn more about the story of ReAct!