Inaugural Foreign Policy Global Health Forum

Interim Secretariat Lead of the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub, Dr Ralf Sudbrak, featured in a panel discussion on The Rise of the Superbugs – Tackling Antibiotic and Antimicrobial Resistance as part of the inaugural Global Health Forum convened by Foreign Policy on the 28th of June.

The Rise of Superbugs—Tackling Antibiotic and Antimicrobial Resistance


  • Kevin Outterson, Executive Director, CARB-X
  • Lori M. Reilly, Esq., Chief Operating Officer, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • Dr. Ralf Sudbrak, Interim Secretariat Lead, Global AMR R&D Hub
  • Moderator: Reena Ninan, Founder, Good Trouble Productions

Key takeaways:

  • Combating Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) requires an urgent response. Experts predict that AMR will be the primary cause of death by 2050, globally.
  • COVID-19 has exacerbated AMR. Throughout the pandemic, there have been drastic increases in secondary infections as a result of the virus, particularly among patients who are resistant to antibiotics.
  • COVID-19 has raised awareness of AMR while simultaneously delaying its research and funding capacities. Private and public partnerships among industries, governments, academic institutions, and healthcare professionals are needed to invest in basic research and preclinical development of antibiotics.
  • The U.S. has an opportunity to become a pioneer in tackling AMR. By signing the Pasteur Act, which establishes a program to develop antimicrobial innovations to target the most dangerous pathogens, this will pave the way for industries in other countries to invest in AMR and R&D.

Expert insights:

  • Kevin Outterson: We have the opportunity to prevent something that we know is coming. There is no doubt what is happening with bacterial evolution. . . . 1.27 million people are dying from drug-resistant bacteria [in 2019 – according to the Lancet report published in Jan 2022]. This is a global health issue of the first tier that we need to recognize.”
  • Lori M. Reilly: We don’t need just two to four new antibiotics; we need a pipeline of antibiotics, because we could find ourselves at a point in time where routine surgeries present significant risk. It’s almost unimaginable when you think about it, but it demonstrates the urgency and the absolute imperative of public-private partnerships. We showed with COVID that we can work together, and we can work in partnership. We absolutely need to do the same here.”
  • Dr. Ralf Sudbrak: Antimicrobial resistance is an ongoing pandemic. It is not a silent pandemic anymore. We must understand that if you do not have functioning antibiotics, we do not have modern medicine anymore. We can’t do chemotherapy, we can’t do hip replacements, we can’t do Cesarean sections. All these routine surgeries are not possible without functioning antibiotics. . . . We need 10 to 15 years to develop one antibiotic, and we probably need 10 to 15 new antibiotics within the next 10 years. That means, we have to fill the clinical pipeline for drug development [and] push out incentives.”

The Forum was convened as a platform for experts to discuss the most pressing issues and developing trends in international public health. As the world continues to contend with the repercussions of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the forum amplified the leading voices in global health to shed light on key pathways to revitalize and strengthen health systems and explore how public, private, and civic leaders can better anticipate and address often-overlooked risks such as antibiotic resistance and biowarfare. This timely, hybrid event also provided an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned from pandemics and epidemics to help inform preparedness investments and planning.

More information on the Forum and on each session can be found here and here.

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