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article imageWho will pay for new antibiotics?

By Tim Sandle     May 12, 2015 in Health
Oslo - New types of antibiotics are needed in order to stem the flow of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the deaths causes from infections that were once readily treatable. One thing hindering development is finance. The question is: who pays?
This question has been posed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The scientists behind a recent statement argue that the Norwegian government strategy to address antibiotic-resistant bacteria is too narrow. Their comments could equally be levelled at many governments worldwide.
The lead signatory behind the recent statement is Magnus Steigedal. Steigedal is Director of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Strategic Research Area on Health. In addition he is in charge of the Norwegian section of a major European Union project concerned with the development of new antibiotics.
Steigedal’s main concern is that there is no significant funding for antibiotic research. He notes that pharmaceutical companies are not investing because the return on investment is not large enough. In the statement he writes:
“The biggest challenge is to make developing new antibiotics commercially viable. It may take 20 costly years to develop new medicine. Pharmaceutical companies aren't generating much income when patients stop taking their medicine after a few days or weeks.”
A second area is university research. Although many universities are searching for new antibiotics, many are not, and without a consorted effort by the research community new compounds will not be found.
A third issue is with national governments. Governments can either help with spending or encourage antibiotics to be restricted. This involves instructing the medical community to use the drugs only in the most serious of cases and placing a ban on the use of antibiotics on farms for the unnecessary fattening up of farm animals. With spending, world economic problems have led to a cut-back on the amount that governments are prepared to spend.
Furthermore, as Steigedal argues, in the case of Norway the proposal from Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie (H- Conservative Party) along with Minister of Agriculture and Food Minister Sylvi Listhaug (FrP- Progress Party), is too limited. A purely national policy will fail due to the movement of people and animals across borders. Instead collaboration between neighboring countries is needed.
In related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a report that warns that the world is heading to a post-antibiotic era where medicines common today will no longer be available.
More about Antibiotics, Drugs, Medicine, bactera
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