How do we fix antibiotic resistance?

Microbes are continually evolving, so we will always need new antibiotics. The challenge comes because drug-resistant bacteria –antibiotic-resistant microbes –are developing faster than new antibiotics can be discovered.

Working in partnership with government, the NHS, regulators and charities is the only way we can tackle the drug resistant infections. That’s why being #TogetherForAntibiotics is so important. No one person, company, research organisation or government is going to solve this issue alone.

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What is the pharmaceutical industry doing?

Pharmaceutical companies continue to fund the long-term research and development needed into new antibiotics, as well as other initiatives aimed at educating and raising awareness of resistance to antimicrobials.

But there is a problem. New antibiotics need to be used sparingly to preserve their effectiveness, and save them for the patients who really need them most.  An important last line of defence.

But this means that whilst there is a huge need, there is limited incentive for investing in discovering new antibiotics – particularly in late-stage clinical research.

In this scenario the cost of development from companies can often exceed the return, undermining investment in future research. As a result there are only a few antibiotics currently in the pipeline.

The AMR Action Fund

The pharmaceutical industry has set up an initiative called the AMR Action Fund.

This ground-breaking collective venture aims to invest nearly $1 billion through a new AMR Action Fund to bring 2 to 4 new antibiotics to patients by the end of the decade.

But the pharmaceutical industry can’t do this alone. Everyone must work togetherare working with national governments, and through international alliances to try and find workable solutions.

What can governments like the UK do?

The UK has been pioneering a unique solution to one part of the problem and is going to launch a new model for paying for antibiotics in 2024, following a successful trial. This new model is promising and it now needs to be brought in quickly, across the whole of the UK.

Global action is also needed, and governments need to continue to work to make sure we:

  • Support only the appropriate use and prescription of existing antibiotics
  • Fund the development and adoption of new antibiotics with appropriate stewardship
  • Collaborate at the global level on sustainable solutions, such as through the G7.

Last modified: 19 January 2024

Last reviewed: 19 January 2024