“We are in danger of going back to the dark ages of medicine”David Cameron UK Prime Minister 2nd July 2014
The world could soon be “cast back into the dark ages of medicine” unless action is taken to tackle the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
He has announced a review into why so few anti-microbial drugs have been introduced in recent years.
Economist Jim O’Neill will lead a panel including experts from science, finance, industry, and global health.
It will set out plans for encouraging the development of new antibiotics.
‘Taking the lead’
The prime minister said: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again.”
Mr Cameron said he discussed the issue at a G7 leaders meeting in Brussels earlier this month and got specific support from US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It is hoped that the review panel’s proposals will be discussed at next year’s G7 summit, which will be hosted by Germany.
“Penicillin was a great British invention by Alexander Fleming back in 1928,” Mr Cameron told the BBC. “It’s good that Britain is taking the lead on this issue to solve what could otherwise be a really serious global health problem.”
He said the panel would analyse three key issues: the increase in drug-resistant strains of bacteria, the “market failure” which has seen no new classes of antibiotics for more than 25 years, and the over-use of antibiotics globally.
It is estimated that drug-resistant strains of bacteria are responsible for 5,000 deaths a year in the UK and 25,000 deaths a year in Europe.