Call for immediate action on antimicrobial resistance

A substantial increase in global funding needs to be invested in drug research to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, according to the first recommendations of a major government-backed review.

“Tackling a global health crisis: Initial steps” has been published today as part of an ongoing review of antimicrobial resistance which was commissioned by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in July 2014, with the goal of delivering final recommendations  by the summer of 2016. 

Carried out by economist, Jim O’Neill, the review, when completed, will recommend a package of actions on which the UK government will seek international agreement to tackle the “growing threat” of antimicrobial resistance as it applies to both human and animal treatments.

In his “first recommendations” today, Mr O’Neill warns that the gap between spending on cancer, for example, and antibiotic research needs to be closed. He also said that drug-resistant infections will kill an extra 10 million people a year by 2050.

“I am calling on international funders to allocate money to a fund that can support blue sky science and incubate ideas,” he said.  “Antibiotics research is the poor relation to studying chronic diseases of the developed world but, without antibiotics, treating those diseases can be compromised too.”

The Medical Research Council (MRC), responding to the new report, said that antimicrobial resistance had become a “huge and complex problem for healthcare and agriculture”.

“Picture a world where a cut finger could kill you,” said MRC chief executive, Sir John Savill.  “You don’t have to look far.

“As the O’Neill review suggests, real change needs proper global investment. What we do know is that the UK model on antimicrobial resistance research is an exemplar of how to bring researchers from all disciplines and backgrounds together. We have the expertise, experience and the imperative. We need to act now.”

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