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Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance in a COVID-19 Era | Mainstage

Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, Vice President for Global Public Policy, Merck & Co.
Steve Morrison, SVP and Director, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic & International Studies

Antimicrobial resistance is a creeping and silent killer. More than 700,000 people die yearly, including 35,000 Americans, from previously-treatable infections. The good news is that consciousness about the issue has recently and dramatically increased.

Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, Vice President for Global Public Policy at Merck & Co., said she believes that it will take both private industry and the government to address antimicrobial resistance. Merck is one of the few companies continuing to invest in antibiotic research and development. It is time for the G7 to act in order to develop novel antibiotic treatments. Steve Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, wondered why the pipeline remains weak. Krishnamoorthy explained that antibiotics are a special business case in that they should be rarely—rather than commonly—prescribed, so the return on investment calculation is different from the usual. 

Both speakers agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a mixed impact. The crisis moved attention off of antibiotic resistance even as the CDC noted a 45% increase in hospital-acquired infections due to ventilator usage. There is hope, though, in the conversations happening between countries and nations. 

I implore the G7 and countries around the world to actually act on these plans to address the whole continuum of the issue.

Jenelle Krishnamoorthy

In the course of this pandemic we have changed and innovated significantly on vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and forming these partnerships between industry and government, prioritizing candidates, organizing the clinical trials better, organizing the payment mechanisms better.

Steve Morrison

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Microbial drug resistance is an acute and growing problem. Finding new antibiotics and treatments is crucial in order to save lives. 
  • Drug companies need a different incentive structure to promote the research, development, and manufacturing of novel antibiotics.