Issue No. 15: The Fight Against AMR’s 2021 Year in Review

The world can look back at a year of advances in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In 2021, scientists, researchers, biopharmaceutical firms, and public health leaders shed new light on the dangers inherent in drug-resistant pathogens, proposed solutions that may solve the problem, and continued the development of new, innovative treatments. All the while, they highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic added fuel to the fire that is the AMR crisis.

If nothing is done to kill superbugs — bacteria and fungi resistant to antimicrobials — that fire may turn into an inferno. Already, drug-resistant pathogens kill over 700,000 people worldwide each year.

Chief among the problems associated with AMR is the broken antimicrobial market. The more doctors prescribe a given antimicrobial treatment, the more bacteria or fungi build resistance to it. By design, these drugs are made to be used judiciously. But limiting the use of novel antimicrobials means that biopharmaceutical companies engaged in this critical area of R&D struggle to recoup their investment in developing new treatment options for patients.

And yet, developing new antimicrobial medicines is a critical component of addressing the AMR crisis. It’s often only when drug-resistant superbugs are treated with novel medicines they haven’t encountered before that those organisms will die.

Let’s look back on this year’s fight against AMR.


In February, a study in ACS Infectious Disease touted “pull incentives” as a mechanism to repair the antimicrobial pipeline. A pull incentive offers antimicrobial developers a payment upfront following the FDA approval of a new and novel antimicrobial product. This payment helps developers secure a guaranteed return on investment for products that address unmet needs for AMR. Governments may even commit to supporting antimicrobial development with payments at regular intervals in a subscription-style “Netflix model.”

To read the full newsletter, click here.

Click here to subscribe to the Superbug Bulletin.