A Matter of Life and Death

The Economics of Antibiotic Resistance

In a cover story in the latest issue of the Milken Institute Review, Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of Extending the Cure, provides an economic analysis on the problem of antibiotic resistance, pointing to misaligned incentives and market failures in our hospitals and research and development pipeline, that have contributed to rising resistance rates.  In the piece, Laxminarayan proposes that the solution focuses on creating incentives for conserving current and future antibiotics while simultaneously developing new drug therapies.

The author goes on to suggest that antibiotics should be viewed as a limited natural resource—one that can be depleted with overuse. Just as we take steps to preserve clean air and water, we must also conserve antibiotics by using them only when absolutely necessary, he says. Laxminarayan asserts that the current market does not give drug companies incentives to ensure antibiotics are used judiciously.

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