Press release |

MSF response to O’Neill report on antimicrobial resistance

Photograph by Bruno De Cock
National TB Centre, Abovian, Armenia February 2010. The injections, pills and powders DR TB patients must take are toxic antibiotics, the most recent of which was developed 40 years ago. Most patients suffer side effects that can sometimes cause more discomfort than the disease.

Geneva, 18 May 2016 — The O’Neill Report is the British Government’s response to tackling the emerging antibiotic resistance crisis. Critical to overcoming this global threat will be for all countries to play their part and take action to address the crisis, including funding research and development for new tools—new classes of antibiotics, but also diagnostics and vaccines—while ensuring sustainable and affordable access for those new tools. At the same time, steps need to be taken to conserve existing antibiotics for as long as possible.

Médecins Sans Frontières responds to the O’Neill Report with the following quotes:

Drug-resistant infections are a looming threat to the work MSF does—they’re everywhere: we see them in war-wounded patients we treat in Jordan and in newborns in Niger.  Our medical staff are increasingly seeing people who have infections that can only be treated with one of the last lines of antibiotics. It is vital that this important topic is high on the political agenda as it can no longer be ignored. All countries need to realise the gravity of the issue and take action.”

- Dr Annette Heinzelmann, Medical Director, Médecins Sans Frontières

“The O'Neill report confirms what MSF has long voiced - that the current system of pharmaceutical R&D is not always developing and delivering the drugs, vaccines and diagnostics we need; when they are developed, they are often unaffordable or not suitable for the people who need them most.  While the report is an important first step in addressing this broad market failure – including focusing on applying new models of incentivising innovation, like the 3P project (Push, Pool, Pull) to develop new regimens for drug-resistant tuberculosis – it does not go far enough. The O’Neill report proposes considerable new funding to overcome the failures of pharmaceutical R&D but the proposals do not necessarily ensure access to either existing tools, such as vaccines which continue to have considerable pricing barriers, or emerging new products; instead, in some cases, the report’s solution is simply to subsidise higher prices rather than trying to overcome them.

“Governments and WHO must take a more central role in setting priorities and making decisions about R&D.  It is important that the needs of developing countries and particularly neglected people aren’t left behind; they must be considered from the outset when priorities are set, products are designed, access and conservation strategies are drawn up.  The most vulnerable people must not be short-changed or forgotten.” 

- Dr Grania Brigden, TB and AMR Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign