York Outer MP Julian Sturdy hosted a debate in Parliament yesterday afternoon on the need to incentivise the next generation of antibiotic drugs.
Mr Sturdy has long championed the need to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, and since his first debate on this matter back in 2014 both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have made major speeches on the issue. Antimicrobial-resistant infections already kill around 50,000 patients across Europe and America. However, the Prime Minister’s review concluded that by 2050 up to 10 million people could die every year across the world as a result of increased resistance to antibiotics.
Speaking during the debate, Mr Sturdy said “Antibiotics are the fire department of our health service, and they need a better funding model. We do not pay our firefighters only when they put out a fire; nor do we think that it is a poor return on our investment when they are not in action. Instead, we ensure that we have a well-funded fire service in place at all times, to protect us in our hour of need. It is a service that we all take for granted, and exactly the same is true of our use of antibiotics.”
The Government has so far announced additional funding to tackle the problem, including a £20 million fund for laboratory surveillance, and a further £250 million innovation fund in partnership with China. Mr Sturdy called on the Government to offer more support to British pharmaceutical companies and charities, with particular reference to the York based charity Antibiotic Research UK or ANTRUK. The York-based charity boasts some of the country’s leading experts and it is the first of its kind to tackle the challenge of the scarcity of new antibiotics to treat resistant infections.
During the debate, the Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman, agreed to meet with Mr Study and representatives from ANTRUK to discuss how the Government can support the work of the local charity. Mr Sturdy also urged the Government to publish a clear timetable for action, and requested that more of the £12 billion foreign aid budget be used towards tackling antibiotic resistance.