No single country, organization or sector can fully address the complex threat posed by infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics, so we have been pleased by the private sector’s willingness to engage in this space. Our ability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats depends not just on cooperation, but also on our ability to develop innovative solutions to age-old problems.
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you for inviting me to speak to all of you. I want thank all of you for joining us here tonight, and in particular, I want to thank the supporters of the CDC Foundation for their generosity.
The work of the foundation, like tonight’s event, reflects the great importance of including the private sector’s perspective in both domestic and global public health. Addressing the important health issues facing the world today requires collaboration—not just among countries, but across sectors, too.
Later this evening, I will be opening the AMR Challenge, a year-long global effort to galvanize private-sector commitments to combating antimicrobial resistance. I know some in this room have already joined in the challenge, and I hope in the coming year more of you will both make a commitment and help us in getting the word out.
The AMR challenge will be just the latest in a long history of public-private cooperation on public health challenges.
One of the more parochial examples is the private generosity that helped lay the groundwork for the CDC itself. Following World War II, as the CDC was beginning to expand the scope of its work beyond wartime concerns like malaria, Robert Woodruff, president of Coca-Cola, decided to lend a hand. He helped strike a deal for Emory University to sell 15 acres of land on Clifton Road in Atlanta to the CDC, for the grand sum of $10.
As it happened, those 10 dollars were personally raised by CDC employees, which I’m sure would violate about a dozen different federal appropriations laws today.
That property on Clifton Road remains the home of what has become the world’s finest epidemiological institution, which still benefits from private generosity today.
Since that time, the world has learned to mass-produce antibiotics, eradicate smallpox, map the human genome, and develop safe and effective treatments for the once-mysterious threat of HIV/AIDS. None of these advances in public health could have happened without partnerships and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
The U. S. government continues to prioritize public-private partnerships for a simple reason: They work.
The single most important global health priority for multilateral organizations like the WHO must be the cross-border threat of infectious diseases, and here, too, the private sector has a role to play.
One example is the Global Health Security Agenda, a multilateral and multisectoral partnership of 64 countries, international organizations, non-governmental stakeholders, and private sector partners. The GHSA aims to build capacity to detect and stop disease outbreaks around the world, whether natural, accidental or deliberate.
No single country, organization or sector can fully address the complex threat posed by infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics, so we have been pleased by the private sector’s willingness to engage in this space.
Our ability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats depends not just on cooperation, but also on our ability to develop innovative solutions to age-old problems.
We’ve seen great success in this realm with CARB-X, the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Accelerator. The U.S. government is very proud of its role in launching CARB-X, which was called for by our own National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria.
CARB-X supports the early development of antibiotics, diagnostics and other medical products to combat the most serious drug-resistant bacteria.
Thanks to funding from the U.S. government, the U.K. government, the Wellcome Trust, and the Gates Foundation, CARB-X is committed to invest over $500 million between 2016 and 2021 to accelerate R&D for new antibacterial products.
This CARB-X funding has already generated $485 million of investment from private firms—more than eight times the initial investment we have made, and a great tribute to the way public-private partnerships can stimulate investment.
CARB-X provides non-dilutive funding and accelerators to help companies with promising products advance through the pipeline. These life-saving antibiotics, vaccines and rapid diagnostics will be our next generation of tools for threats like drug-resistant bacterial infections and sepsis.
In just its first two years of CARB-X, our expectations have already been exceeded: The $91 million awarded to date has supported a portfolio of 33 investigational antibacterial drugs, including 10 new classes of antibiotics.
It is hard to overstate the significance of the progress we’re making: There has not been a new approved class of antibiotics to treat these bacteria since 1962.
As we work with partners to incentivize the R&D pipeline, we also recognize the need to maintain the arsenal of drugs we have through careful stewardship and infection prevention. The U.S. government works closely with a range of stakeholders and sectors, both domestically and internationally, on these efforts.
I hope many of you will join us at the AMR Challenge directly after this reception, to continue this discussion. And I invite all of you, if you have not already, to make commitments in this coming year to consider partnerships with HHS to protect the health and well-being of the American people, whether through the AMR challenge, GHSA, or other initiatives.
The threats to the health and well-being of Americans and people around the world are ever-evolving. With your help, we can continue to prevail against them.
So thank you for your support, and thank you for joining us here tonight.