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10 million people to die from antibiotic resistance, says Chancellor

Antimicrobial resistance will become a greater global risk to mankind than cancer without concerted international action, the Chancellor warned.

George Osborne said 10 million people are predicted to die worldwide by 2050 as a result of antibiotics becoming resistant to common infections.

Speaking at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC the Chancellor said there would be “an enormous economic cost” too.

He called on governments and industry leaders to work together “in radical new ways” to combat the problem.

Osborne said: “We have to dramatically shift incentives for pharmaceutical companies and others to create a long-term solution to this problem, with new rewards, funded globally, that support the development of new antibiotics and ensure access to antibiotics in the developing world.”

A review by Treasury minister Lord O' Neill on antimicrobial resistance is due to be published next month.

Osborne also backed Lord O' Neill's proposal to create “market entry rewards” for drug companies which successfully get a new antibiotic or diagnostic to market.

A call has also gone out for researchers to join the race to develop an affordable, easy to use diagnostic test to decide when an antibiotic should be prescribed.

The £10 million Longitude Prize, which is part funded by the UK government, was launched in 2014 to support innovation.

Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-chairman of the Longitude Prize advisory panel said they were “looking for these novel diagnostics to help inform better stewardship of antibiotics. A broader range of innovators encouraged into this space through the Prize would indeed benefit from this fund, and improve the likelihood of their products reaching global communities.”

In 2013 England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies set out recommendations to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

She called for new drugs to help combat the new infectious diseases being discovered and those developing resistance to the current armoury of medications.

Click here to view her report