Perspective from Margaret Fitzpatrick, MD, MS
May 23, 2016
2 min read

Antimicrobial resistance could claim 10 million lives annually, cost $100 trillion by 2050

Perspective from Margaret Fitzpatrick, MD, MS
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If left unchecked, antimicrobial resistance is estimated to result in 10 million deaths annually and a cumulative global cost of $100 trillion by 2050, according to a recently released report.

Established by United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance group’s final report is based on 19 months of consultation and data collection. Along with presenting these estimates of antimicrobial resistance’s potential cost, Lord Jim O’Neill, chairman of the review, and colleagues presented a selection of 10 recommendations to curb the impact of resistance. These interventions include:

  • implementing a global public awareness campaign;
  • improving hygiene and infection prevention;
  • reducing unnecessary agricultural antibiotics;
  • bolstering global drug resistance and antimicrobial use surveillance;
  • developing novel rapid diagnostics;
  • researching vaccines and antimicrobial alternatives;
  • increasing recruitment, compensation and recognition of ID professionals;
  • establishing a Global Innovation Fund for new research;
  • devising better incentives for commercial drug development; and
  • building a coalition to monitor and enforce global efforts.

O’Neill and colleagues estimated these measures to cost as much as $40 billion — or $4 billion annually for 10 years — to implement. As this annual burden represents roughly 0.05% of what the G20 countries currently spend on health care, this amount could be raised by reallocating existing funds, they wrote. In additional, support could be obtained by implementing a tax on existing antibiotics, penalizing pharmaceutical companies that are not adequately investing in antimicrobial resistance research or introducing rewards for commercial entities that do so.

“The actions that I’m setting out today are ambitious in their scope — but this is a problem which it is well within our grasp to solve if we take action now,” O’Neill said in a press release. “I call on the governments of the G7, G20 and the UN to take real action in 2016 on the 10 proposals made by my review, to avoid the terrible human and economic costs of resistance that the world would otherwise face.”


Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations. Accessed May 19, 2016.

Disclosure: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

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