Antibiotics for the Common Good
Antibiotics once stood as a beacon of hope, a panacea against a multitude of bacterial infections. They have revolutionized healthcare, extended lifespans and reduced the suffering caused by once-deadly diseases. However, these weapons are losing their edge as indiscriminate use of antibiotics accelerates the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs. The World Health Organization now describes antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development. If left unchecked, estimates suggest it could cause up to 10 million deaths per year by 2050. Governments must act fast, but joined-up thinking and judicious use of limited resources will also be essential.
To face this AMR challenge, TSE economists are committed to providing informed solutions and rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of public policies. In a new edition of our Economics of antibiotics & antibioresistance journal, we highlight some of the latest investigations conducted by our researchers, including Nobel laureate Jean Tirole and TSE Health Center Director Pierre Dubois. Their analysis highlights the collective mechanisms that can ensure that all countries, businesses and global citizens embrace the need to change the way we use antibiotics.
- Incorporating a wide range of factors that affect prescription decisions, this research reveals how physicians substitute to other antibiotics as AMR increases.
- Policies that rein in antibiotic use can reduce AMR. However, there may be unwanted side effects on the behavior of physicians and consumers, such as encouraging overuse of other valuable antibiotics.
- The mixed effects of such policies highlight the importance of a unifying approach that considers the entire ecosystem, such as the “One Health” approach adopted in France.
- Optimal pricing of rapid bacterial detection and antibiotic susceptibility testing depends on the probability of infection in society and the value of treatment.
- Cooperatives are undermined by free riding, which reduces their ability to secure funding.
- Governments, private donors and multilateral organizations that act as impartial third parties can help cooperatives to develop new antibiotics and broaden access to innovation.
- Without this help, cooperatives will be outperformed by for-profits in financially viable markets, and unable to supply neglected markets.
- Further research on the effective use of public subsidies or regulation for cooperatives will be essential to address global challenges such as antimicrobial resistance.
Want to read more?
ARPEGE project: Launched with the support of the French government in 2021, the €17m ARPEGE project is an ambitious initiative that combines TSE expertise in a multisectoral approach to tackling AMR. Developed jointly with Hospices Civils de Lyon, bioMérieux and Antabio the consortium has been tasked with expanding the arsenal of effective antibiotics, developing targeted diagnostics, and reducing bacterial transmission in hospitals.
Published in TSE Reflect, November 2023
Crédit photo Pexel