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article imageCall for fund to develop new antibiotics

By Tim Sandle     May 17, 2015 in Health
A British economist is calling on the world's leading pharmaceutical companies to set up a $2 billion fund to enable research into new antibiotics.
A U.K. government-appointed review team into the issue of antibiotic resistance, headed by economist Jim O'Neill, has urged the global pharmaceutical industry to fund a $2 billion innovation fund to kick-start research into new antibiotics. O'Neill argues that without the fund, the incentive for major pharmaceuticals to develop new antibiotics is not there. This is due to the low return-on-investment and too great a focus on short-term profit-and-loss. The issue of "who pays for new antibiotics?" was recently posed by Magnus Steigedal, director of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Strategic Research Area on Health, who came to a similar conclusion that the world cannot wait around for big pharma alone.
The world is facing a crisis in terms of the rise of antibiotic resistance among different types of bacteria (an example is meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).) The greatest threat is to patients in hospitals and to those who are immunocompromised. Since the first batch of penicillin in the 1940s, antibiotics have been used widely to treat various microbial infections in people. However, in recent decades, the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to current antibiotic treatments has rapidly increased.
The $2 billion global innovation fund would, if agreed, last for five years. The money would be channeled into research into drugs and diagnostics, with most of the investigations taking place in universities and small biotech companies. The patents would be held by the pharmaceutical companies.
As part of O'Neill's plan, the BBC reports, if pharmaceutical companies agree to set up the research fund, there would be guaranteed payments to companies which produced the new generation of antibiotics. This would include access into national healthcare systems. Senator Sherrod Brown has made similar calls in the U.S. for government funding to support research.
The plan comes in the shadow of a new World Health Organization report which reveals that around three-quarters of the countries in the world have no plans to slow down on antibiotic use.
More about Antibiotics, Bacteria, Health, Medical, clinical microbiology
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