Develop new antibiotics or face fines, drug firms told

It has been decades since a new class of antibiotics was developedNORM BETTS/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Research into preventing an antibiotics crisis could stop within a few years unless pharmaceutical companies are financially penalised for pulling out of developing drugs, an economist has warned.

Lord O’Neill of Gatley, who was asked by the government to find a way of funding antibiotic development, said that the prospects of developing a solution to drug-resistant bacteria remained dire after Novartis was the latest big company to stop research.

There are only six pharmaceutical companies looking to bring new antibiotics to market, “only three of which are serious”, he said. In order to transfer laboratory research into workable drugs, the involvement of big private sector companies is key — but Lord O’Neill said that it was threatened.

“It’s not impossible that within a few years…

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