A new five-year plan to encourage the development of new antibiotics has been announced by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at the World Economic Forum (WEF).
This follows a 2016 report by Lord O’Neill which addressed the issue, and which recommended tackling overuse, and supporting innovation. The report described the situation around development of new anti-microbial drugs as a ‘market failure’, and indicated that there was a need to significantly improve the commercial incentives for the development of new antibiotics, in order to ensure research investment by pharma.
The new five year plan touches on these issues, and ways these could begin to be tackled, such as amending NHS reimbursement for antibiotics to better reflect the broader value that they offer. However, no clarity is offered over how this proposal will be developed and implemented, or the degree of the financial impact that will be offered.
Anti-microbial resistance is estimated to be the cause of over 700,000 deaths worldwide, and it is predicted that this will rise to 10 million per year by 2050. The plan notes the limited impact that a single country can have in tackling a global issue of this scale, and calls for concerted global action on the problem, as underlined by the launch at the WEF.