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Economist: $37 billion needed to combat “superbugs”

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Global pharmaceutical manufactures need to invest billions of dollars to prevent antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”, according to Jim O’Neill, an economist leading a UK government review into antimicrobial resistance.

Global pharmaceutical manufacturers need to invest billions of dollars to prevent antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” according to Jim O’Neill, an economist leading a UK government review into antimicrobial resistance.

In order to “radically overhaul” the antibiotics pipeline, $37 billion is needed over the next 10 years, O’Neill told The Wall Street Journal. This will spur the industry to develop innovative antibiotics, since there is little market incentive to do so, he believes. However, he is open to other sources of funding to combat the problem, such as a global tax initiative, besides pharmaceutical manufacturers.

 Pharmaceutical firms with the “highest priority antibiotics” should be given a lump-sum payment, O’Neill said. “This would ‘delink’ profitability from sales volumes, lowering the risk of developing a novel antibiotic as well as reducing the incentive to oversell the drug once it is on the market,” the article stated.

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Global drug companies should recognize that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) “has a long-term commercial imperative to having effective antibiotics, as well as a moral one,” O’Neill said. In an earlier report, O’Neill estimated that AMR would kill 300 million people prematurely in the next 35 years if unaddressed.

O’Neill also called for the development of a “global AMR innovation fund” of around $2 billion over 5 years to kick-start research into new antibiotics.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned the review last July.

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