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New BEAM Alliance Position Paper calls out worldwide stakeholders to support SME-driven innovation and revive the product pipeline fighting antimicrobial resistance

In 2017, the collective fight to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has experienced a new upswing. Following the eye-opening report of British economist Lord Jim O’Neill, policymakers, funding bodies and national governments set up a series of new initiatives to accelerate drug development by supporting research and development (R&D) in the AMR field.
Taking advantage of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WHO) and 2 days before the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (Nov 18, 2017), the European BEAM alliance, representing 40 ‘Biopharmaceutical companies from Europe innovating in AntiMicrobial resistance’ research, today released a position paper to acknowledge these efforts and to highlight the important role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are playing as innovators.
The document lists ten (10) guidelines as to how antibacterial R&D could be revived and proposes specific support for SME-driven innovation in the AMR field. The alliance particularly demands that policymakers understand the specific nature and needs of SMEs to design effective PUSH and PULL mechanisms.
  1. Adequately-shaped incentive mechanisms that ultimately rewards R&D evidence
  2. Health Technology Assessment recognising the true value of SME innovation
  3. Dedicated regulatory pathways to support the specific needs of AMR projects and act as pre-qualification criteria to some PUSH/PULL incentive mechanisms
  4. PUSH incentives and funding mechanisms that are directed to SMEs, calibrated and accessible for SMEs in practice
  5. Calibrated Market Entry Rewards (MER) to ensure continuous and sustainable innovation from academics to biotech companies and to large pharma players
  6. R&D prizes and phase entry rewards as effective PULL mechanisms for SMEs to incentivise the most underserved indications in AMR
  7. Targeted tax incentives specifically addressing SMEs to incentivise private investments into AMR-focused companies and/or avoid de-prioritization
  8. Going beyond to exploit all possibilities for AMR from SMEs
  9. Support education to strengthen attractiveness of the field for R&D professionals/scientists
  10. Long term thinking and wisely usage of AMR innovations combined with appropriate diagnostics development
Marie Petit, coordinator of the BEAM alliance, says:  “Existing SMEs in the AMR field are true pioneers! Despite a much-underserved ecosystem to fund and perform R&D, they fight to make the difference for millions of patients and come up with very innovative approaches – both antibacterial and non-antibacterial (prevention, anti-virulence, anti-biofilm, phages, microbiome protection.). They carry the hope for the coming decades and it is of upmost importance that policymakers and countries involved in the fight against AMR make sure their policies are laser focused on SMEs need and none is left behind until the ecosystem is properly revived.”
Due to their versatile properties, bacteria are evolving resistance faster than policymakers are implementing action. It is of enormous importance to ultimately revive R&D in AMR by developing compelling surveillance data, encouraging out-of-the-box thinking, rewarding R&D evidence and strengthening existing scientific expertise.” adds Marc Gitzinger, CEO of BioVersys AG, Switzerland, Vice-President of the BEAM Alliance.
Marc Lemonnier, CEO of Antabio SAS, France, Member of the Management Board of the BEAM Alliance comments: “Globally, some 250 biotech companies are working on new antibacterial strategies. SMEs are the crucial innovation engine in the AMR field. Addressing the specific requirements of SME-driven innovation within current AMR initiatives is key in order to provide patients with effective drugs that can win the fight against AMR.”
In March 2018, the BEAM alliance together with Berlin-based BIOCOM AG will invite key players to a one-day-conference, providing a discussion platform for addressing the specific challenges of SMEs in developing new antimicrobials and AMR diagnostics. The Berlin Conference 2018 expects more than 200 high-level representatives from policy, academia, industry and the finance sector. “We will have more than 40 speakers, among them over half from SMEs, to explore the best business strategies in the AMR R&D arena.” says Sandra Wirsching from BIOCOM AG, a life science-focused publishing house. The event is further supported by the German Fraunhofer Society and the EU-funded “European Gram Negative Anti-Bacterial Engine” (ENABLE) consortium.