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Can global antibiotics fund overcome resistance?

Pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to heed the recommendations of a review of antimicrobial resistance, and plans for a global blue-sky fund will take a long time to mature, commentators have told Research Fortnight.

The review, led by the economist Jim O’Neill, who was recently appointed as a junior minister to the Treasury, called for pharmaceutical companies to pay into a $2-billion (£1.4bn) “not-for-profit incubator” to help develop antibiotics. It also advised that a larger fund should be set up, paid for by national governments, to support companies that produce an antibiotic ready for public use.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry welcomed the report, but said it was important to recognise the value of existing antibiotics—the fund might encourage early-stage research, it said, but would only yield treatments “years from now”. Colin Garner, the chief executive of Antibiotic Research UK—a charity aiming to raise £30 million to bring one new antibiotic to market by 2020—agrees. He says he is not sure that there is enough time to build the global collaborations that the report’s model requires.

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