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Tackling the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Pfizer Anti-infectives
Pfizer UK

26th March 2019

Antibiotics are medicines that work to treat or prevent bacterial infections, but many are losing their effectiveness due to AMR.


As a leading global provider of anti-infective medicines, we offer patients access to a diverse portfolio of more than 80 products, including 45 antibiotics that are currently included on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) essential medicines list.1,15

The role of anti-infectives and vaccines underpin modern medicine as we know it, curing and even preventing many kinds of infections.2,10 We want to ensure that patients continue to benefit from vaccines and the appropriate use of antibiotics so that they work to fight infections in the way that they should.


The threat of AMR

AMR arises when the micro-organisms which cause infection (e.g. bacteria) survive exposure to a medicine that would normally kill them or stop their growth. This allows those strains that are capable of surviving exposure to a particular drug to grow and spread, due to lack of competition from other strains. This has led to the emergence of ‘superbugs’ such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and multi drug-resistant tuberculosis, bacteria which are difficult or impossible to treat with existing medicines.2

AMR can affect anyone, of any age, in any country. The WHO characterises AMR, particularly in Gram-negative bacteria, as one of the biggest threats to global public health today.3,4,5

Globally, AMR causes 700,000 deaths annually. Industry, with government are working to address the challenge set in a recent international review led by Lord O’Neill who said this figure could rise to 10 million deaths per year by 2050, which would exceed estimates of deaths caused by cancer.2


Time to take a stand

We're proud to be leading the conversation on the AMR crisis, working closely with industry, government, NHS and other healthcare organisations to take a cross functional approach. We remain committed to investing in a range of innovative antibiotics, vaccines and alternative technologies for combatting resistant infections."

Ben Osborn, Managing Director, Pfizer UK

Pfizer is proud to be leading the conversation and demonstrating its public health responsibilities by providing treatments and solutions that protect patients from the threat of infectious diseases and resistance to those medicines made to cure them, now and in the future. We remain committed to expanding our global leadership and developing solutions that go beyond just medicine, working closely with key partners including industry, government, the NHS and patient groups to address AMR through:6,7


Raising Awareness




Here in the UK, we’re working with scientists, doctors and academics to educate the general public and healthcare workers about antibiotics and how to use them responsibly.

In 2018, we launched the ‘Superbugs: Join the fight’ school education programme, designed alongside the PSHE Association and National Schools Partnership, to engage primary school pupils with this real-world issue. Over 1,600 schools signed up to receive the free resource pack and over 600 students took part in a competition to develop an AMR awareness campaign.

We’re also sponsoring the free Science Museum exhibition, ‘Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives’ which explores the growing threat of the ‘superbugs’ and highlights the role that we all have to play in the fight. We estimate around 1 million people have already passed through the exhibition, which will run until early April 2019.

Surveillance and Stewardship




Understanding evolving resistance patterns is a key element in the quest to limit the rise of AMR2.

In 2017, Pfizer Inc. launched the Antimicrobial Testing Leadership and Surveillance (ATLAS) website, designed to provide healthcare professionals, researchers and the global health community with easy access to critical resistance information and inform them about resistance trends across more than 70 countries.8

In the UK, we’re also proud to sponsor a collaboration with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the University of Dundee on the development of an online educational course for healthcare professionals on antibiotic stewardship.9

Discovery and Development




Anti-infectives underpin modern medicine as we know it, curing and even preventing many kinds of infection.10

Since the 1940’s when Pfizer first mass-produced penicillin, we’ve been actively involved in the discovery and development of medicines to treat infections as well as vaccines that prevent them.11

Prevention is better than cure.12 In the case of antibiotics, if we can prevent infections by increasing our use of vaccines and only using antibiotics when absolutely necessary, we can ensure that antibiotics are available for many years to come.2

We have over 80 anti-infective medicines and vaccines and continue to evaluate opportunities to expand our R&D pipeline to ensure we address the evolving medical needs of patients and healthcare workers.11

Policy Leadership




A strong pipeline of new antibiotics is essential to restoring the balance against increasing rates of AMR. However, investing in antibiotic research has long been unattractive for life science companies and no new class of antibiotics have been invented for decades.2

The journey from discovery to a clinically approved medicine is long and failure rate is high. The complexity and uncertainty in the early stages of discovery mean that huge sums have to be invested before a new antibiotic is successfully developed. New medicines may be kept in reservce for later use and therefore used infrequently, making it difficult to recover the high costs associated with development.13

At Pfizer, we’re committed to working with the UK Government, Department of Health and Social Care and other policy makers to develop a new model which ensures appropriate use of antibiotics, reduces the financial impact of infections and outbreaks and encourages a more sustainable economic model.

How can you join the fight?

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most complex health challenges of our time with the potential for millions of lives to be at risk by 2050 if we do not take action now.2 But there is still hope – we all have a role to play in the fight against the ‘superbugs’ and by following these 4 simple steps, you too can help control the spread of resistance.4,14

Keep yourself clean and healthy
The simple act of washing hands can stop infections spreading.

Use antibiotics correctly
Always follow the instructions you are given by your doctor when taking antibiotics.

Keep vaccinations up to date for you and your family
Everyone knows the saying – prevention is better than cure. 

Spread the word
To win the fight we need everyone to take action.



  1. Antimicrobial-Resistance-Benchmark 2018. Feb 2019
  2. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: final report and recommendations. May 2016.
  3. World Health Organisation: Antibiotic Resistance Report. April 2014
  4. World Health Organization. Antibiotic resistance. February 2018.
  5. DNK-Vasso S et al 2015. Emerging Issues in Gram-Negative Bacterial Resistance: An update for the Practicing Clinician. March 2015
  6. AMR Industry Declaration. January 2016
  7. Industry Roadmap. September 2016
  8. Pfizer 2017 Annual Review. ATLAS. June 2018.
  9. British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Acknowledgements. Last accessed: October 2018
  10. Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope. (2015). Antibiotic Resistance: why the fuss and what simple actions can everyone take? January 2015.
  11. Pfizer 2017 Annual Review. Anti-Infectives. June 2018.
  12. Public Health England. Health Matters: Preventing infections and reducing AMR. November 2017.
  13. ABPI. UK pharma body welcomes action from drugs companies on Antimicrobial Resistance. September 2016.
  14. World Health Organisation. Infection prevention and control. Last accessed: October 2018
  15. WHO Model List of Essential Medicines. March 2017
PP-PFE-GBR-3685 / June 2021