Well over half a million people die every year as a result of drug resistant antimicrobials, with as many as 2 million being infected in the United States alone. Last week, a group of normally competing pharmaceutical companies came together to put together a plan for reducing drug resistance in the coming years. Some of these companies pledged to cut the environmental footprint made by antibiotic production, while others said they’d share surveillance data, improve access to antibiotics, vaccines, and diagnostics, and some pledged to look into new methods of research and development.
Drug resistance has become increasingly problematic, with some formally minor infections now threatening on becoming as dangerous as they were a century ago. This is partially due to practices highlighted in places like the United States, where nearly a third of all prescribed antibiotics are either not needed or not pertinent nor effective. This allows for the bugs to evolve to resist them. Another factor is the use of antibiotics in animals consumed, with as much as 70 percent of antibiotics going to them, which allows for more mutations that resist even further.
It has been over 30 years since the last class of antibiotics was developed, with many companies blaming their lack of progress to funding while silently admitting the profits that long term pills give them. The Pay or Play approach has been suggested by the O’Neill Commission to the gathered group in order to combat this, with companies given incentives to be the first to develop new medicine, and any who refrain from it would be subject to a surcharge.