The Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP) and Novartis have announced a partnership aimed at accelerating the development and availability of generic antibiotic treatments for children in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

The strategic partnership is in response to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) call for affordable, improved and adapted antibiotic formulations and regimens for this vulnerable young population, for which treatment options are limited.

The agreement will leverage knowledge and expertise sharing between Sandoz, the Novartis generics division, and GARDP to drive incremental product innovation. It will also leverage the know-how and partner network of Novartis Social Business in areas such as supply chain, capacity building, and measurement and evaluation to improve availability of medicines, in particular in remote and underserved areas.

Significant progress has been made in recent years to improve child health globally, including a 50% reduction in child mortality since 1990. However, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major barrier to further reducing childhood mortality. Infectious diseases, including serious bacterial infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, are a leading cause of child morbidity and mortality with more than three million deaths reported in 2013, nearly two million of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The estimated 214,000 deaths of newborns each year due to drug-resistant infections pose a great concern.

“Children are not small adults and require treatments that are adapted in terms of regimen, dose and formulation. However, challenges around conducting clinical trials in children have led to lack of evidence-based treatments available for them. And lack of evidence hinders the development of treatment guidelines for their care,” said Director of GARDP, Dr Manica Balasegaram.

“This partnership not only has the potential to reduce the number of preventable deaths in children, but also to help tackle AMR through addressing the over-use and misuse of antibiotics,” continued Dr Balasegaram.

The two groups plan to improve and adapt existing generic antibiotic formulations and dosing regimens for newborns and children. In particular, they plan to develop heat-stable paediatric formulations against diseases that represent the leading causes of death in under-fives in lower-income countries. This work will also help determine future collaboration opportunities between both organisations.

In addition to improving and adapting generic antibiotics, both organisations say that they are committed to embedding access and stewardship measures on the appropriate use of antibiotics, limitation of indications, and clearly defined distribution channels to ensure that children living in resource-constrained environments receive the antibiotics they need.

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