Greater investment in early-stage drug research and market-entry rewards are essential, says Anthony McDonnell

I read with interest your article (Antibiotics crisis made worse by shortages in supply, 1 June) on the Access to Medicine Foundation report into this topic. Its excellent report highlights an important problem. A failing supply chain along with a lack of investment in new antibiotics is already causing major health problems across the world, and this will only get worse. However, I fear your article missed part of the story. Over the past few years the UK independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (on which I worked), the EU’s Drive-AB and many other groups have suggested workable solutions to the problem of underinvestment in new antibiotics. In short, we need greater investment in early-stage drug research, and market-entry rewards that pay researchers based on the quality of the drug. This is necessary to discourage overselling and because antibiotic sales do not reflect their societal value, making patents a poor form of incentive.

The problems of and solutions to antibiotic resistance are well understood. What we need now is politicians to start acting. Something the UK led the world on when David Cameron was prime minister, but now seems to be neglected as politicians focus on the UK’s departure from the EU.
Anthony McDonnell

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