11th December, 2014 - Geneva, Switzerland - A new report released today estimates that failure by governments to take action on drug resistant infections such as tuberculosis will lead to over 10 million deaths a year and cost the global economy up to $100 trillion by 2050. The report, which found that drug resistant E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis would have the biggest impact, is the first time the potential impact of drug resistant infections have been quantified.
Former Goldman Sachs Economist Jim O’Neill, who was appointed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to lead the review, said drug resistant infections represent a more certain threat than climate change in the short term. Commenting on the economic costs, he said "the annual GDP of the UK is about $3 trillion, so this would be the equivalent of around 35 years without the UK contribution to the global economy."
"Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a catastrophe unfolding in slow motion that is already killing tens of thousands of people each year, and in many parts of the world is overtaking cases of normal TB", said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.
Covering the new report, The Financial Times said "the pharmaceutical industry has invested relatively little in antibiotics in recent decades, because they seemed to offer poor returns compared with higher-priced drugs for chronic diseases." This follows on a report by the Treatment Action Group in October 2014 that found spending on TB research from private-sector companies dropped 11.8% from 2012 to 2013 to less than $100 million.
"Today’s report has made it clear that the status quo of declining investment in developing new tuberculosis drugs must end. Lack of proper treatment for most of those with drug-resistant TB and lack of new, effective, and affordable drugs means further spread of these superbugs", said Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK.
The review is the first of several that will be published on drug resistant infections and will be followed by further work on accelerating development of new antimicrobial drugs and potential ways of incentivizing drug makers to produce them. The authors will also examine the market for new point of care diagnostics.