Is David Cameron the middle-aged British version of Superman who has come to save us all from superbugs? Recently, the British Prime Minister announced that his country would take the forefront role in finding ways to increase the developments of new antibiotics. Still, Cameron knows that Britain cannot win the fight alone and has urged for an international collaboration.
Cameron has announced that Great Britain will begin a review into why so few anti-microbial drugs have been developed in recent years, the BBC reported. The threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has become a “major threat to global health,” according to the World Health Organization. In Europe alone, 25,000 people have died from drug-resistant infections. New and improved antibiotics are an important tactic to help combat this problem, but the overall production of new drugs is at an all-time low. The review as to why this is will be led by former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jim O’Neill, who has described the job as “a very exciting challenge,” Reuters reported.
The initiative, named "The O’Neill Commission," will not only investigate the cause of the problem but work toward amending it by encouraging and accelerating new drug developments. The $850,000 needed to fund the project is being supplied by the Wellcome Trust charity in London.
Great Britain may have taken the first step toward a solution, but the island nation isn’t able to save the world from superbugs on its own. “I want to see a stronger, more coherent global response," Cameron explained. He described how, if left untreated, the problem would leave the world “looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work,” The Guardian reported.
This is not the first time that Cameron has brought up the need for international collaboration. The issue was brought up by the British Prime Minister at the G7 Summit of leaders in Brussels last month. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were reported to have shown particular interest in aiding in the effort. The O’Neill Commission’s review should be ready to be presented to global leaders by the time next year’s G7 summit occurs in Germany.
Antibiotics, which were ironically first discovered in Britain nearly 100 years ago, have become less and less effective due to the combination of over-prescription and misuse. This has encouraged bacteria to develop new ways of fighting off the drugs. The result is what we see today: an overabundance of drug-resistant bugs and a deficiency in drugs necessary to combat them. MRSA is one of the most widely known of these drug-resistant bugs. It is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. and Europe each year, along with uncountable numbers in poorer nations.