Antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, save lives every day. Without effective antimicrobials, common infections could become untreatable and even life-threatening for humans and animals.
While antimicrobials play a crucial role in the health of humans, animals, and plants, they can become less effective when the microbes that cause infections develop resistance to them. This process can be accelerated by the overuse of antimicrobials in humans and animals. Yet, despite their importance, most of the top pharmaceutical companies are no longer developing new antimicrobials, as the cost of investment in innovation heavily outweighs the financial return.
In 2018, it was estimated that more than 5,400 Canadians die every year from infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics and that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) costs our healthcare system $1.4 billion. AMR is clearly an urgent and growing threat to global health, with wide-spread socio-economic impacts.
Globally, AMR is a leading cause of death and is associated with close to five million annual deaths, more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, or breast cancer. If left unaddressed, AMR could bring a return to an era where modern-day life-saving medical procedures, such as cancer treatments and joint replacements, would no longer be possible due to the risk of untreatable infection.
As AMR knows no boundaries and poses a threat to people around the world, global commitment, collaboration, and ambitious action is critical to combatting AMR. Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $6.3 million to Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) in support of global and domestic antimicrobial innovation. CARB-X is a non-profit organization and global partnership working to address the threat of antibiotic resistance. CARB-X accelerates innovation by supporting the development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics, and other preclinical and early-stage development products against antibiotic-resistant infections.
The Government of Canada recognizes the urgent need to take increased and expedited action to combat AMR. Through this investment, we will help support Canadian research groups and industry in their research and development efforts for therapeutic and diagnostic solutions to fight AMR. It will also help support global innovation by strengthening the discovery and development of new antimicrobial drugs needed to ensure patients can continue to rely on these life-saving medicines.
With this investment, Canada joins the efforts of AMR leaders across the globe including Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Gates Foundation, and Wellcome Trust, as a contributor to CARB-X.
“This investment will support accelerated research and development of new antimicrobial drugs, allowing us to monitor, prevent and mitigate the serious and growing threat of AMR, and ultimately preserve the effectiveness of the antimicrobials we rely on every day.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health