Sweden Set to Host Global Conference on Antibiotics

An international conference addressing issues surrounding new antibiotics is set to take place Sept. 6-8 in Sweden at Uppsala University. Organizers say it will be the first-ever global conference on the subject, and one that is long overdue.

"The very serious and rapidly increasing public health threat caused by antibiotic resistance is truly a global problem and thus requires global solutions," says a statement from ReAct-Action on Antibiotic Resistance, the international organization that is managing the conference. "Addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance will require coordinated efforts to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and develop new medicines. Ensuring that people in low-income countries have access to effective medicines is a priority."

In 2009, during Sweden's presidency of the European Union, a conference was held in Stockholm with the aim of initiating an innovative approach to medicine-related issues. ReAct says the September 2010 conference will build upon the previous one, but feature an expanded perspective with participants from around the world. The group said it has invited more than 150 participants from all continents and that those invited represent a number of different stakeholders, including academia, NGOs, professional organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, policymakers, and members of Sweden's Ministries of Health. The aim of the conference, the group says, is to not only discuss the scientific problems but also to translate these into active policy proposals and commitments.

ReAct says it "is of utmost importance to ensure continued discussions, improved awareness and understanding of this urgent threat to public health. The political processes initiated in Europe and the U.S. . . . need to be broadened and made global. Thus, to capitalize on this momentum, the conference in Uppsala in September will employ a global perspective. The conference will address the issues related to new antibiotics; emphasize the importance of making new treatment options accessible and affordable as well as addressing issues of priority setting, the need for new diagnostic tests, and combination therapies."

The conference, themed "Global Need for Effective Antibiotics--Moving towards Concerted Action," will opened by the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria; State Secretary to the Minster of Health and Social Affairs, Karin Johansson; the President of Uppsala University, Dr.Anders Hallberg; the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab; and Director of ReAct, Dr. Andreas Heddini.

The conference will feature a number of plenary sessions and workshops. Titles of plenary sessions include:

  • Policy Challenges to Optimizing the Use of Antibiotics
  • Global Priority-Setting for Research and Development to Manage Antibiotic Resistance
  • The Supply-side Bottlenecks: Scientific, Regulatory, and Financial Challenges
  • Reengineering the Value Chain for Research and Development of Antibiotics - Applying Lessons from Neglected Diseases
  • Future Treatment Options – Balancing Antibiotics with other Treatment Concepts
  • Moving Towards Concerted Action

Workshop titles will include:

  • Developing a Framework for Priority Setting for New Antibiotics
  • Towards New Business Models for Research and Development for New Antibiotics
  • Mobilizing for the Development of New Diagnostics
  • Conserving Antibiotics for the Future: New Ways to Use Old and New Drugs

"This conference is of major importance, as it represents the first time that so many different global players will gather in this way," says Otto Cars, professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University and chairman of the International Secretariat for ReAct. "Good research and good intentions are not enough. Priorities need to be established, along with new guidelines, diagnostic methods and incentives to promote investments in pharmaceutical development. Global cooperation and concrete proposals are required.

"Motivating companies to invest in the development of antibiotics that are affordable to people in low-income countries is a challenge, and where return of investment must no longer depend on large sales volumes to minimize antibiotic resistance."

For more information, visit www.reactgroup.org.

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