Championing a Sustainable Pipeline for Antibiotics

Scientists around the world agree that global innovation is needed to address the shortage of effective antibiotics. Our Infection Research Initiative supports much-needed research and development, but new policies are needed to promote a sustainable and robust antibiotics pipeline and marketplace that rewards innovation.

6 min read
In this article
Summary
  • People with CF face a heightened life-long risk of infections because of the thick, sticky mucus in their lungs. Routine use of antibiotics in CF care is medically necessary. However, too many people with cystic fibrosis find themselves battling difficult-to-treat infections for which existing antibiotics are not effective.
  • Through our Infection Research Initiative, we are funding any science that we believe holds real promise to address infections. However, we also need to ensure new infection treatments that stem from this research make it into the hands of patients.
  • Finding new ways to pay for antibiotics to rewarding companies that bring much-needed new antibiotics to market are vital. We need comprehensive action from Congress and the administration to enact policies that ensure access to antibiotics that work -- both now and in the future.

Each year, 2.8 million Americans acquire a serious infection caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a result, 35,000 Americans die. Globally, that number rises to 700,000, causing the World Health Organization to designate antibiotic resistance as a top global public-health threat.

Difficult-to-treat respiratory infections are a hallmark of cystic fibrosis. Even at very young ages, more than 60% of people with CF test positive for at least one bacteria that could make them ill. This rate increases to more than 80% in older ages, signaling the continued threat of multi-drug resistant infections to the CF community.

Antibiotics are unique in that their effectiveness can weaken over time. The need to use these treatments sparingly -- whenever medically appropriate -- means it's difficult for manufacturers of novel antibiotics to receive an adequate return on their investment. As a result, many manufacturers decide against the financial risk of developing new antibiotic drugs, leaving the antibiotics pipeline barren.

Antibiotic resistance is a public-health crisis that we can no longer ignore, and new solutions are needed now. The longer we go without policies that provide incentives for innovation and development, the weaker the pipeline of new antibiotics will become, threatening our chances of having effective antibiotic treatments in the future for people with CF and all Americans.

While this issue is not ours alone to solve, the CF Foundation along with the CF community is bringing urgently needed attention to the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections and encouraging lawmakers to invest in solutions for the vital antibiotics market.

A Sustainable Pipeline Matters to People With CF

People with CF face a heightened life-long risk of infections because of the thick, sticky mucus in their lungs. Routine use of antibiotics in CF care is medically necessary. However, too many people with cystic fibrosis find themselves battling difficult-to-treat infections for which existing antibiotics are not effective.

Because the effectiveness of antibiotics can weaken over time, a robust antibiotics development pipeline is a necessary part of ensuring continued access to antibiotics that work.

With few new antibiotics in the drug development pipeline, patients are left with significant unmet antibiotic treatment needs -- and we anticipate this problem will grow as antibiotic-resistant infections become more prevalent. The financial challenges associated with bringing a new antibiotic to market and keeping it there are great. Antibiotics rarely command a high price, and many antibiotic developers are struggling just to cover the costs of manufacturing their products.

Our Work to Strengthen the Antibiotics Market

In 2018, the CF Foundation dedicated $100 million through 2024 to an Infection Research Initiative as part of a sweeping effort to advance infection research. The Foundation already has committed more than $84 million to the initiative, and we will continue to fund any science that we believe holds real promise to address infections.

In addition to providing $41 million in academic research awards, we are currently funding 19 industry awards focused on infection. However, we also need to ensure new infection treatments that stem from this research make it into the hands of patients. To this end, we are working to strengthen the antibiotics market through a variety of actions:

  • We've partnered with clinician groups, public-health experts, coalitions, nonprofit working groups, and companies to educate policy and decision-makers on the need for action.
  • In February 2020, more than 200 CF advocates from across the country visited Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress for their help tackling this challenge.
  • In July 2020, CF Foundation President and CEO, Michael Boyle, MD, virtually joined healthcare leaders on an expert panel to discuss the need for novel antibiotics -- as superbugs and antibiotic resistance continue to be a global health concern.
  • In December 2020, we joined the Stakeholder Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance (S-FAR) in a letter to then President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. asking for a renewed emphasis on combating antibiotic resistance.
  • In February 2021, we joined S-FAR in a letter to President Biden urging him to make antimicrobial resistance a priority for the G7.
  • In June 2021 we affirmed our support of the introduction of the PASTEUR Act.
  • In August 2021, CF Foundation President and CEO, Michael Boyle, MD, spoke about the issue of antibiotic resistance at the World Orphan Drug Congress.

Our Policy Priorities

Finding new ways to pay for antibiotics to rewarding companies that bring much-needed new antibiotics to market are vital. We need comprehensive action from Congress and the administration to enact policies that ensure access to antibiotics that work -- both now and in the future. Viable solutions include:

  • Reimbursement reforms, such as establishing an antibiotic subscription program to pay for new and innovative antibiotics
  • Developing post-market incentives to help antibiotic innovators earn a fair and reasonable return on their investment
  • Supporting the development of diagnostic tests to guide optimal antibiotic use
  • Prioritizing robust funding for government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to support infection research and antibiotic drug development
Share this article
Topics
About the CF Foundation | Antibiotics | Infections | Public Policy
Was this information helpful?
Downloads
The Silent Pandemic - Addressing Sustainable Solutions for the Antibiotics Marketplace Download (PDF)
Have questions? We’re here to help. Call us at 1-800-FIGHT CF

(1-800-344-4823)
Mon - Thu, 9 am - 7 pm ET
Fri, 9 am - 3 pm ET

 

More Ways To Get Help
Join Us in Advocating for People with Cystic Fibrosis

Sign-up with advocacy alerts by texting “FIGHTCF” to 52886 to join a list of volunteer advocates.  

*Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to optout, HELP for help.
 

Sign-up today.