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An Earnest Proposal for Tackling AMR

Despite global recognition of the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR), not nearly enough has been done to bring new antibiotics into development. With some drug makers now leaving the antibiotics market altogether, there is an urgent need for a realignment of incentives in this vital area of public health.

LONDON – Under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. Presuming that it does (but even if it does not), the UK government should continue to lead the charge against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), as it has in the past. Specifically, it is time for the UK to join with pharmaceutical companies in piloting a new model of finance for investment in research and development of new antibiotics.

Over the course of my professional life, one of the most rewarding roles that I ever had was between late 2014 and September 2016, when I chaired an independent Review on AMR under the government of then-Prime Minister David Cameron. We were confronting a serious challenge to global health and prosperity, and our efforts were appreciated around the world. Soon thereafter, the United Nations General Assembly issued a high-level political declaration on AMR, and the topic was placed on the agenda at the G20.

Even more recently, the Health and Social Care Committee of the UK House of Commons published an updated report on AMR, in which it called for more substantive policies to encourage the production of new drugs. And this more or less coincided with the publication of The People’s Prescription: Re-imagining Health Innovation to Deliver Public Value, a report from the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) that calls on governments to “adopt a mission-oriented approach” to bring more drugs to market.

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