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Wellcome seeks government role in next-generation antibiotics

The UK government needs to provide incentives to encourage pharmaceutical companies to research and develop a new generation of antibiotics, Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, has said.

Farrar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that incentives would help encourage more companies to invest in developing novel antibiotics in the face of growing bacterial resistance to existing drugs.

The trust’s director, who traditionally rarely makes public statements, said 18 companies produced antibiotics 20 years ago but that number has since dropped to four. “That has had a huge impact in the development of antibiotics,” Farrar said but he acknowledged that the problem is not for the UK government to solve alone. “This is again a truly global issue,” he said.

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