Newly beefed up in antibiotics, Pfizer launches user-friendly access to global resistance database

Antibiotic resistance tracking just got a whole lot easier. Pfizer has launched a new system, dubbed ATLAS, with a new user-friendly website and a mobile app for quick-and-easy use by doctors and other healthcare providers in the throes of patient care.

Pfizer created the database, now called Antimicrobial Testing Leadership and Surveillance, 13 years ago at the request of regulators in the U.S. and Europe, and it has now morphed into an open online database of antibiotic resistance around the world. 

Pfizer opened the database to doctors several years ago, but the newly launched version is more user-friendly and includes a corresponding mobile app for the first time. The revamp follows Pfizer's $1.5 billion deal for AstraZeneca's antibiotics portfolio last year, and Pfizer's follow-up rollout of Zavicefta, an antibiotic that targets multidrug-resistant bacteria, outside the U.S.

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ATLAS tracks a wide array of pathogens and antibiotic treatments, allowing doctors, healthcare providers, researchers and even average consumers to look at what’s happening in their own backyards. A physician prescribing an antibiotic to a patient for a known infection, for example, can look up resistance rates and trends for the drugs they're considering—all the way down to the regional and state level.

The tool also includes a “heatmap” feature. Users can choose a pathogen and an antibiotic (or a group of them) and then, by hovering over a country, find an instant resistance-rate percentage. The ATLAS database is updated every 6 months and all 13 years of Pfizer-tracked resistance data are available online.   

“We feel that as a manufacturer of antibiotic agents, it’s our responsibility to monitor that our antibiotics continue to be effective and this is the best way to do it. As you know, bacteria develop resistance—they all do to every drug we expose them to over time—and it’s important to stay abreast of that and understand what those trends are,” said Jill Inverso, Pfizer’s VP of global medical affairs in critical care medicines.

Pfizer is not the only drugmaker that tracks antibiotic resistance. Merck & Co, which sells high-powered antibiotics including Cubicin, has a similar tracking program. AstraZeneca did, but Pfizer integrated it into the ATLAS system after snapping up the AstraZeneca antibiotics portfolio.

While the U.S. and Europe have government healthcare organizations that also track antibiotic resistance, it can be especially important in other parts of the world that don't.

“The Centers for Disease Control does monitor resistance in the United States and in Europe, the European equivalent does the same, but in other regions of the world, these programs don’t readily exist,” she said.

The new ATLAS website and app were launched at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in April, and within 48 hours of launch, more than 100 people had registered. Inverso said Pfizer will continue to spread the word at future conferences and through its medical staff around the world.