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Billions needed to find new antibiotics - inquiry

Thursday May 14th, 2015

The world needs a massive fund to find new antibiotics, according to a major report published today.

The fund needs to be worth about two billion dollars, according to Jim O'Neill, who is conducting an inquiry into the antibiotic crisis for the British government.

It would be used to fund "blue skies" research into new antibiotics.

The idea is modelled on the work of the Gates Foundation, backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, or the Global Fund, which has supported action in poor countries.

The proposal, part of an interim report, was welcomed by charity Antibiotic Research UK.

Chief executive Colin Garner warned: "The problem lies not only in funding but also a lack of new ideas. Our charity, with some of the UK’s top researchers in antibiotic resistance behind us, aims to develop its first new antibiotic therapy by 2020.

"To do this requires funding. I hope very much that some of the monies from the new global fund will flow through to us so we can speed up our research programme on Antibiotic Resistance Breakers."

The UK Medical Research Council also backed the findings. It said it had already established a "war cabinet" on the issue.

Chief executive Sir John Savill said: "It’s easy to look to big pharma to help stump the bill for pushing new antibiotics through the pipeline, but only by working together to foster innovation and support change will we really get under the skin of this problem.”

The Royal College of GPs said work to prevent over-use of antibiotics also needs to be stepped up.

Chair Professor Maureen Baker said: “It is astonishing that a new class of antibiotic has not been produced in over 25 years – and we would strongly support more investment into research to develop new antibiotics to tackle emerging diseases, so that we can keep our patients safe now and in the future.

“But this isn’t going to happen overnight and in the meantime, it is important that we do whatever we can to help limit the growing, global resistance to antibiotics."

Tags: Pharmaceuticals | UK News | World Health

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