Antibacterial R & D Incentives

Resistance to antibiotics is a rising public health problem in the United States. In the past decade, almost every type of bacteria has become less responsive to commonly used antibiotics. At the same time, the development of new antibiotics has failed to keep pace with the growing number of drugs rendered useless by resistance.

In a new analysis from Extending the Cure, the authors suggest that government incentives are needed to encourage the research and development that goes into producing novel antibiotics. In addition to increasing development of new antibiotics, they say we need to implement strategies aimed at preserving the power of the antibiotics that are already in use today.

For example, incentive payments for antibiotic drugs could be linked to government-set resistance targets. Manufacturers of drugs would receive higher payment as long as they market drugs judiciously and stay within the target zone. Other solutions reviewed by the authors include the need for vaccines that would prevent bacterial infections in the first place or a push to develop single-dose slow-release antibiotics or other delivery vehicles that could slow the pace of resistance.

This study was funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation support to Extending the Cure, a research and consultative effort that examines incentive-based policy solutions to curb antibiotic resistance based on the understanding that antibiotics are a shared resource that must be conserved. The project is based at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, D.C.