Expert insight

Creating new antimicrobial drugs will require governments working with industry

9 April 2019
  • Thomas Cueni Director General

As the number of infections resistant to antimicrobial drugs continues to rise around the world, and with it their huge human and financial toll, we urgently need new ways to preserve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics and to develop much-needed new ones.

Creating state-run or publicly owned pharmaceutical companies, an idea promoted last week by British economist Jim O’Neill, isn’t the way to proceed.

Back in 2014, the British government asked O’Neil to propose concrete actions to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. That work led to the 2016 publication of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, which called for the use of market entry rewards and an innovation fund to generate more drugs.

Yet nearly three years later, O’Neill is criticizing the biopharmaceutical industry for failing to respond to this global health crisis. I have tremendous respect for his sounding the alarm on the risk of antimicrobial resistance and his call to action in the Review, but I disagree with him here…

To read the full oped, please visit STAT’s First Opinion (published on 9 April 2019).