The University of Geneva and AstraZeneca manage a new research project

The World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed antibiotic resistance to be one of the three greatest threats to human health today, as bacteria become increasingly resistant and too few treatments are being developed to combat them. The research project DRIVE-AB, a consortium managed by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and AstraZeneca, has determined that a market entry reward of $1 billion per antibiotic globally could significantly increase the number of new antibiotics coming to the market in the next 30 years.

RIVE-AB (Driving Re-investment in research and development for antibiotics and advocating their responsible use) was tasked with developing and costing new economic models to promote antibiotic innovation and the sustainable use of the resulting, novel antibiotics. The consortium, which was supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative and brought together 23 partners including pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and public health organizations, assessed more than 30 incentives gathered from different industries for how each would affect antibiotic innovation, sustainable use and equitable availability.

The market entry reward, which DRIVE-AB recommends providing in addition to unit sales for qualifying antibiotics, aims to create a more attractive market for investment in antibiotic research and development (R&D) designed to attract increased and sustainable private sector funding. A market entry reward is a series of financial payments to an antibiotic developer for successfully achieving regulatory approval for an antibiotic that meets predefined criteria to address public health needs, with obligations for sustainable use, equitable availability and supply. Based on its research, DRIVE-AB estimates that up to two innovative antibiotics addressing priority pathogens identified by the WHO could receive a market entry reward in the next five years.

According to Professor Francesco Ciabuschi, a DRIVE-AB partner from Uppsala University, “Our simulations predict that introducing market entry rewards could potentially help to bring to market a total of 16 to 20 new truly innovative antibiotics in the next 30 years. Without incentives, some scientifically promising treatments would probably never make it to patients.”

While market entry rewards are discussed and put in place, national authorities should address the economic challenges within their existing systems. The DRIVE-AB provides suggestions for improving Health Technology Assessment (HTA) processes to better capture the societal value of antibiotics in coverage and reimbursement decision-making. DRIVE-AB also published new models to describe the spread of resistant organisms, and consensus parameters for responsible antibiotic use.

Complete DRIVE-AB info package can be seen here.