Words by Helena Beer
Despite a few rumblings recently about COVID-19 cases seeing an increase in some areas, most communities across the world appear to be heading in the right direction and getting back to some form of normality that we’ve all been craving for the past two years or so. But as one health crisis abates, at least for now, there’s another one hot on its heels, and it’s one that’s been approaching for some time: antimicrobial resistance.
Widely described by experts as a ‘silent’ or ‘hidden’ pandemic that can no longer be neglected, there’s been some evidence of progress, as healthcare bodies and pharmaceutical companies up their game – the UK’s new scheme incentivising R&D investment in antimicrobials through a Netflix-style subscription model being a prime example. In addition, the Infection Management Coalition White Paper, published in February 2022, set out 29 tangible recommendations aimed at creating a mature healthcare system worldwide that is resilient to the risks of AMR.
But while this is all positive, there’s a lot of theoretical talk that needs to be translated into meaningful, concrete action. R&D is vital for developing cutting-edge diagnostics and treatments to plug the so-called ‘discovery void’ of the last 30 years, but elevating public understanding of the AMR threat is just as important. As our cover feature highlights, there are countless obstacles, but forging ahead is the only option when things as simple as routine surgeries and chemotherapy are at risk. Pharma superheroes can fight the superbugs and win (capes optional).
Much of the content within these pages focuses on how pharma can support patients and improve their health outcomes – both directly and indirectly – whether that’s by boosting adherence; ensuring clinical trials are made accessible and convenient; or utilising their knowledge, opinions and suggestions throughout the R&D process. But any support for patients is made all the more difficult when there’s conflict to contend with.
The war in Ukraine has put unparalleled pressure on healthcare systems within the country itself, as well as in the countries looking after refugees, not to mention on supply chains and clinical trials, too. Our Supporting patients in a war zone feature considers the current healthcare situation in Ukraine, as well as pharma’s response to the ongoing crisis. It’s an emotive look at the industry’s efforts to offer a continuity of care that’s needed more than ever.
This article features in GOLD 22 – read the full issue here.