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Incentives, Disincentives for Research & Development of New Antimicrobial Drugs & Alternatives to Antibiotics for Food Animals*

Incentives and disincentives to researching and developing new antimicrobial drugs and non-antibiotic alternatives for use in food-producing animals was the focus of a workshop March 17-18, 2016, in Washington, D.C.  The workshop was a collaboration of Farm Foundation, NFP, and USDA's Economic Research Service.

Keynoting the workshop was Catherine Woteki, USDA Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics. Other speakers included representatives from FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, academic researchers, animal health pharmaceutical company representatives, global animal health associations and biotech development companies. Presentations have been posted from those speakers who have given permission to do.

The rise of antibiotic resistance and the decline in the number of new antibiotics being developed creates great concern for the future of human medicine.  There is a burgeoning literature on methods to incentivize the development of new antibiotics for human use.  Much less discussed are similar concerns for food animal products.

To understand how to incentivize research and development of new antimicrobial drugs and novel products requires understanding the market for animal pharmaceuticals, how to bring a product to market, the regulatory protocols required to bring products to market, the regulations on use of antibiotics in food production, and the overlap between human and animal antibiotic use and development. 

This workshop examined these factors. It also explored the types of interventions that might be used to incentivize research and development of new antimicrobial drugs and novel products for use in food animals. This workshop was not intended to explore the chain of antimicrobial resistance from farm to fork, or antibiotic stewardship practices in livestock production.

The workshop was targeted to policy makers, researches and government agency staff, as well as representatives of the human health, livestock production, veterinary medicine and animal health industries. 

*Since “novel products” is a large umbrella, this workshop focuses on antimicrobial activity targeting multi-resistant animal pathogens, such as: bacteriophage and bacteriophage gene products, essential oils, immune enhancers, innate defense molecules, naturally-occurring antibacterial lytic enzymes, organic acids, phytochemicals, prebiotics, probiotics, small interfering RNAs, therapeutic antibodies, lytic enzymes, cytokines, and vaccines.

A note on language:  In the policy sphere, the phrase “alternatives to antibiotics” is used to refer to many products, the use of which may lessen the need for traditional antibiotics. However, depending on a number of features, these products may not be marketed as drugs, and therefore do not go through the same regulatory review as drugs. Hence marketers of these products do not refer to them as “alternatives to antibiotics,” since that would be a claim that they have drug-like properties. While the use of the term “alternatives to antibiotics” is in the title of the workshop, we want to be clear that participation in the workshop does not indicate that a participant’s company is making any drug claims about its marketed products.”





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