To mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, Canada’s leading biomedical industry and research-based organizations have come together to form the Canadian Antimicrobial Innovation Coalition (CAIC). The group will work to accelerate Canada’s response to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through biomedical innovation, regulatory advisory, and market access. AMR is the resistance to medicines that help treat infections caused by pathogenic bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites.
“The rapid emergence and spread of drug resistant infections in Canada is a serious public health concern that will only be exacerbated with the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Sameeh Salama, Chair of CAIC’s Steering Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Fedora Pharmaceuticals. “According to the Canadian Council of Academies, by 2050, it is highly plausible that 40% of all bacterial infections would be resistant to antibiotics, having contributed to 396,000 lives lost and shrinking the Canadian economy by $388 billion. The development of a coalition such as CAIC has never been more vital.”
AMR happens when bacteria evolve to counteract the effect of a drug, and is made worse by the misuse of antibiotics. As the threat of existing antibiotics losing their effectiveness grows, not enough new antibiotics are being created to replace them. The Coalition will work with Canada’s health sectors, governments and other industry partners to foster innovation in therapeutics, diagnostics, vaccines and alternative treatments while also encouraging appropriate use of existing antibiotics.
“In Canada, we are at a critical juncture where we must coordinate our efforts to ensure Canadians won’t experience the continued negative effects of AMR,” said Wes Miyai, Vice-Chair of CAIC’s Steering Committee and Associate Director, Public Health/External Affairs at Merck Canada. “The COVID-19 crisis has already accelerated the pace of AMR through the use of antimicrobials routinely prescribed in addition to treatments for the viral infection. CAIC will work to improve the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, helping to protect the lives of Canadians.”
CAIC is in the process of being established as a non-profit, membership-based organization. The Coalition is committed to tackling AMR by immediately taking the following steps in conjunction with government efforts to protect all Canadians against AMR:
- Unite regulators, public policymakers, researchers, and manufacturers to overcome barriers to AMR research, product development and adoption, and investment.
- Advocate for policy initiatives, research mechanisms, and regulation aimed at strengthening efforts to combat AMR in Canada.
- Contribute to the Pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use, with a specific focus on research and innovation.
Canada has already recognized the threat of AMR and the urgent need for action with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s September 2017 release of a Pan-Canadian Framework for Action for Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use. This was the result of a coordinated effort between federal, provincial, and territorial governments, as well as academics, NGOs, and industry experts representing human and animal health and agriculture sectors at all levels.
CAIC strongly supports the Canadian Declaration on Antimicrobial Resistance. Its members are well positioned in the biopharmaceutical, diagnostic and research industries to advise on new business models that will help improve access to new antibiotics, diagnostics and vaccines both in Canada and around the world.