Concerned about the rising levels of drug resistance whereby microbes evolve to become resistant to antimicrobials, the UK Prime Minister asked economist Jim O’Neill to analyse this global problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and propose concrete actions to tackle it internationally. In July 2014, the UK Government commissioned the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust. The Review is independent and engages widely with international stakeholders to understand and propose solutions to the problem of antimicrobial resistance, from an economic and social perspective. In May 2015, Jim O’Neill, who is widely known for coining the term BRICs for the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, was appointed to the House of Lords and became Commercial Secretary to Her Majesty’s Treasury in the UK. He continues to chair the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in a personal capacity.
If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine" – David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
The real implications of spreading drug resistance will be felt the world over, with developing countries and large emerging nations bearing the brunt of this problem. Routine surgeries and minor infections will become life- threatening once again and the hard won victories against infectious diseases of the last fifty years will be jeopardized. Hospital stays and expenses, for both public health care providers and for out of –pocket payers will increase significantly. Drug resistant infections are already on the rise with numbers suggesting that up to 50,000 lives are lost each year to antibiotic-resistant infections in Europe and the US alone. Globally, at least 700,000 die each year of drug resistance in illnesses such as bacterial infections, malaria, HIV/Aids or tuberculosis.
The Review on AMR has been assessing solutions to avoid these terrible costs, producing thematic papers looking at all aspects of the problems raised by drug resistance – including the supply of new drugs, the use of diagnostics, surveillance, infection control, alternative treatments and the use of antibiotics in agriculture. These themes will form the basis of the final report to the UK Prime Minister, with recommendations for global solutions, by the summer of 2016.
We have reached a critical point and must act now on a global scale to slow down antimicrobial resistance” – Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer
NEW – January 21, 2016. Major declaration by pharmaceutical industry on combating antimicrobial resistance launched to coincide with World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
This report outlines the Review’s final recommendations. It first discusses the mounting problem of resistance and why action is needed to combat it and then provides an overview of the solutions that the Review thinks should be implemented to curtail unnecessary use and increase the supply of new antimicrobials. It then looks at the role of public awareness campaigns, the need to improve sanitation and hygiene, reduce pollution from agriculture and the environment, improve global surveillance, introduce rapid diagnostics and vaccines, the need to increase the number of people in this area, and use of market entry rewards and an innovation fund to generate more drugs. Finally the paper examines how these solutions can be funded and looks at ways to build political consensus around them.