LONDON – Twenty-three pharmaceutical companies are joining forces in the AMR Action fund and have raised $1 billion for the clinical development of antibiotic drugs addressing the most resistant bacteria.

Working with philanthropic backers, the fund aims to bring two to four new antibiotics through to approval by 2030.

Pharma companies that have shunned antibiotics over the past decade now say they will “strengthen and accelerate” antibiotic development, providing much needed financial resources and technical support to companies.

The AMR Action fund, an initiative of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), based in Geneva, Switzerland, launched on July 9 at simultaneous events in the U.S. and Europe. Emphasizing the geographical scope, a further event will be held in Japan on July 10.

The $1 billion fund will rescue an antibiotic pipeline that is on the “verge of collapse,” said David Ricks, CEO of Eli Lilly and Co., and president of IFPMA. “The AMR Action fund will support innovative antibiotic candidates through the most challenging later stage of drug development,” he said.

The industry’s propping up of the pipeline will give governments time to make the necessary policy reforms to stimulate demand and incentivize future investment.

In IFPMA’s view, policy makers need to enact market-based reforms, including reimbursement reforms and new pull incentives, to revitalize the market and drive sustainable investments in antibiotic R&D.

In the meantime, the AMR fund will invest in smaller biotechs that are developing novel antibiotics, providing technical support to these portfolio companies, and giving them access to the expertise and resources of pharma.

AMR has the potential to dwarf COVID-19 in terms of deaths and economic costs, according to IFPMA. Each year, 700,000 people die from infections that have become resistant to current antibiotics, and it is estimated that without action this could rise to 10 million per year by 2050.

“Unlike COVID-19, AMR is a predictable and preventable crisis,” said Thomas Cueni, director general of IFPMA. “We must act together to rebuild the pipeline and ensure that the most promising and innovative antibiotics make it from the lab to patients.”