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UK experts urge $2bn for antibiotic fund

UK experts urge $2bn for antibiotic fund
Photo: UK experts urge $2bn for antibiotic fund
British experts are urging the global pharmaceutical industry to co-operate by setting up a fund towards finding a solution to antibiotic resistance.

The global pharmaceutical industry should set up a $US2.0 billion ($A2.47 billion) global innovation fund to help kick-start research into developing more resistant antibiotics, experts say.

The report on Thursday was by the British government appointed Review on Antimicrobial Resistance committee, which has warned that drug-resistant microbes could kill 10 million people a year worldwide by 2050.

"We need to kick-start drug development to make sure the world has the drugs it needs," the review's author, economist Jim O'Neill, told the BBC.

O'Neill, who used to work at Goldman Sachs investment bank, has also warned that antimicrobial resistance - when bugs become immune to existing drugs - could cost $US100 trillion in lost economic output.

Speaking on the BBC Panorama program, he said big pharma should act with "enlightened self-interest".

"If it gets really bad, somebody is going to come gunning for these guys just how people came gunning for finance" during the 2008 global financial crisis, he said.

He said a fund with $US2.0 billion over five years would give a vital boost to research and development by universities and small biotech companies.

The report said that one potential direction was the development of "resistance breakers" that could boost the effectiveness of existing antibiotics without the additional cost of developing new ones.

With $US2.0 billion over five years, the fund could prioritise payment to universities and small biotech companies and break the link between profitability of the drug and volume of sales.

"Too many good ideas are not being pursued for lack of funding," the report said.

The World Health Organisation last month warned that the world was doing far too little to combat the misuse of antibiotics, which is fuelling drug resistance and allowing treatable diseases to become killers. 

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