On the occasion of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), we take you behind the scenes. You will discover the life of SMEs innovating in the field of AMR. This series of comics illustrates some of the issues faced by SMEs.
How do you imagine the daily life of innovative SMEs in the field of AMR?
Do you dream of discovering the antimicrobials of tomorrow? Well, you’ll need a good dose of enthusiasm… The mission of an innovative SME is to discover new products – and it is already quite a job! In AMR, we need to continue the development up to market uptake. But it is not only longer and more difficult than in other areas. It is also more financially challenging because the market is broken, and it is practically impossible to attract investors.
This is why BEAM Alliance is the voice of SMEs to explain to stakeholders what is required to solve the current market failure.
Why is public funding so hard to get in AMR?
It is crucial for an SME to obtain public funding (the PUSH incentives). SMEs developing AMR products usually do not generate revenue, yet they spend a lot of money to demonstrate the value of their product. This is why public support is needed to share the risk and reduce the financial burden.
But the criteria for obtaining public funding are sometimes inadequate and disadvantageous to products that have otherwise a promising clinical utility to fill an unmet or emerging medical need.
And even when funding is attributed to an AMR project, the amount that goes to SMEs is rather low. Did you know that, based on the figures from the Global AMR Hub, less than 20% of AMR public funding goes to SMEs – and yet SMEs are providing 80% of the innovation?
The AMR market failure is scaring off private investors
Let’s now have a look at its main source of funding: private investment.
Imagine that a private investor wants to invest in your AMR company. No need to explain there are technical risks inherent in the development of health products. Right? But now, you need to explain that, on top of that, the market is unlikely to yield significant revenues and certainly not going to create a significant return on investment. How romantic?!
How long do you think it will take before your investor runs away and invest the money into areas with more interesting prospects? The current market failure must be solved if AMR is to become an attractive sector again. This is why implementing PULL incentives is urgent.
The big “COVID effect”, has so-far a limited impact on AMR
This 2021 edition of WAAW once again takes place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to grapple with its aftermath:
– We have become aware of the devastating effects of a pandemic
– We have realised that prevention is always better than cure
– We are already aware that AMR is likely to be the next pandemic…
– And… we’re not doing much.
So, what are we waiting for to tackle the problem head on?
BEAM Alliance calls on all governments and policymakers to take responsibility for designing and implementing the way in which they will manage market failure at their level. In Europe, the Pharmaceutical Strategy is showing the way. It now needs to be turned into action.
Who said a life-saving antimicrobial must be cheap?
An antimicrobial has many superpowers.
– It cures an infected patient
– It may minimise the risk of transmission of the pathogen to the community
– It may avoid the damage that the pathogen can cause to the body
– It may decrease the risk of generating new resistance, etc.
– It enables modern medical interventions to be carried-out safely, such as surgeries, transplants, etc.
Do such superpowers not deserve a little more consideration? Should we not value them?
BEAM Alliance calls for a solution that balances the need for these essential products to remain accessible to all patients with the need to fairly compensate those who have taken risks to develop them.
AMR innovators are not wizards; they are just dedicated… but there are fewer and fewer
It takes time and effort to become an expert in your field. In AMR, innovative SMEs are forced to develop their product beyond the usual limits of the biotech world: usually up to a proof of clinical efficacy in humans. Add to this the high degree of uncertainty surrounding their market prospects, and this makes the task almost impossible! Many are now turning to other more promising and fulfilling horizons in other therapeutic areas. Who could blame them?
We must stop this brain-drain as it is one of the worst losses this innovation ecosystem can suffer, and a dead loss in the long term.
A New Hope…
Keeping the AMR threat under control is going to be a long haul. Fortunately, younger generations of innovators remain motivated to tackle the issue.
It is our duty as a society to nurture young talent. We have to address once and for all the problems that have plagued innovation in the AMR field in recent decades. SMEs are already doing their part. Governments must now do their part and provide solutions to ensure a healthy and profitable market environment that delivers AMR solutions to medical practice Medicine (see our call-to-action).
At BEAM Alliance, we are doing our best to ensure that these solutions (including the upcoming revision of the Pharmaceutical legislation) are compatible with what SMEs need to provide the AMR solutions that Society needs.