Photo: Vectorios2016 (iStock).

The pharmaceutical company Novartis has joined forces with a not-for-profit research and development organisation to help children in low and middle-income countries get quicker access to antibiotics.

It is hoped Novartis’s partnership with the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), which develops and delivers new or improved antibiotic treatments, will speed up access to affordable and improved antibiotic treatments for vulnerable children.

According to a study in the Lancet, infectious diseases such as serious bacterial infections including pneumonia and sepsis are a leading cause of child morbidity and mortality, marked by over three million reported deaths in 2013.

Almost two million of those occurred in sub-Saharan Africa while drug-resistant infections are responsible for around 214,000 newborn deaths each year.

The two organisations said they plan to “improve and adapt existing generic antibiotic formulations and dosing regimens for newborns and children” and develop heat-stable pediatric formulations to stop diseases killing children under the age of five in lower-income countries.

“The agreement will leverage knowledge and expertise sharing between Sandoz, the Novartis generics division, and GARDP to drive incremental product innovation,” they said.

“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.”

They added: “In addition to improving and adapting generic antibiotics, both organizations 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.”