Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Antimicrobial resistance key to fighting decease


Antibiotics have been widely hailed as one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the twentieth century, allowing people to survive previously fatal bacterial infections.

Unfortunately, addressing disease resistance to antibiotics - known as antimicrobial resistance, or AMR - has emerged as a top priority of the twenty-first century, requiring global collaboration among many stakeholders to solve.

Bacterial AMR is spreading due to two major factors: antibiotic misuse and a lack of access to appropriate antibiotics. If AMR spreads further, the consequences could be severe. Antibiotics are used to prevent infection in treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer and common surgeries such as caesarean sections and hip replacements.

According to a comprehensive study published in the British medical journal Lancet, nearly 5 million people died in 2019 from causes related to bacterial AMR, putting it just behind heart disease and stroke as the third leading cause of death worldwide. And that doesn't even take into account fungal and viral AMR.

Young children are especially vulnerable: one in every five AMR-related deaths occurs in children under the age of five worldwide.

Viatris is a founding member of the AMR Industry Alliance, which brings together stakeholders from the biotech, diagnostic, generic, and pharmaceutical industries to develop common solutions and remove barriers to access, all while educating health care professionals on the proper use of antibiotics.

Many antibiotics have been available as generics for several years, and in some cases, producing or selling them is no longer economically viable for companies. This reality raises the possibility of a supply disruption.

Policymakers and payers must recognize that market incentives must extend beyond new product introduction to include the preservation of older products. One of the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that while global issues necessitate global solutions, local policies can mean the difference between life and death and access to critical medicines.

To ensure widespread and equitable availability and access to diagnostics and medicines, governments around the world must collaborate on AMR through surveillance networks, data sharing, and securing global supply chains. Local governments must ensure that policies support efforts to combat AMR, from antibiotic stewardship to market viability.

Furthermore, governments at all levels must collaborate with industry, NGOs, and society to ensure that policies do not have unintended consequences. Patients worldwide must also play a role in making informed decisions about treatment, antibiotic use, and the potential consequences of misuse.

Viatris, as a global healthcare company, recognizes the importance of addressing AMR, including through policy engagement with stakeholders. Our collective efforts will be critical in addressing this top priority of empowering people worldwide to live healthier lives at all stages of life.

A multifaceted approach is required to combat AMR successfully.
Some key strategies include:
  • Proactive infection prevention through increased hygiene and sanitation efforts, hospital-based infection control, and vaccination (both for bacterial pathogens and viral infections, preventing antibiotic overuse/misuse).
  • Educating doctors and patients about the proper use of antibiotics.
  • Better antibiotic stewardship by using them only when necessary, at the appropriate dose, and for the appropriate amount of time, an effort that necessitates accurate diagnosis.
  • Collaboration among various disciplines, including industry, NGOs, and governments, to develop new approaches to meeting unmet needs.