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Economist Jim O’Neill presents final international recommendations to defeat superbugs

A global review on antimicrobial resistance, led by economist Lord Jim O’Neill, has set out its final recommendations, providing a comprehensive action plan for the world toJim O’Neill speaker prevent drug-resistant infections and defeat the rising threat of superbugs – estimated to save the global health bill $100tn a year by the year 2050, if the problem is left to rise unchecked.

International recommendations offered by the report are greater global awareness, the end of antibiotics use in animals – or better labelling so consumers are made aware of the risks – and dedicated funding supplied by pharmaceutical companies in developing new drugs to replace existing ones that are no longer effective. The report’s release met with strong objections claiming that it fails to show how treating such a global health problem should be collaborative and not left to pharma companies to fund and solve alone.

Lastly, it asserts that GPs need better tools to diagnose patients faster and more accurately to distinguish bacterial from viral infections, before they can prescribe antibiotics. No tests currently exist to tell if symptoms are caused by bacteria rather than a virus, often meaning that antibiotics are administered inappropriately.

Read more in an article published in The Guardian today: ‘No antibiotics without a test, says report on rising antimicrobial resistance’

Jim O’Neill argues that “Big Pharma should redirect funds allocated toward share buybacks into research”

Jim O'Neill speakerWriting for Project Syndicate, Jim O’Neill – who is currently Chairing a formal Review into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – argues that “Big Pharma should redirect funds allocated toward share buybacks into research.”

Jim argues that if left unaddressed, the problem of AMR could be responsible by 2050 for the deaths of some ten million people a year, along with over $100 trillion in economic damage. However, provided that adequate resources are made available, he believes that there is much we can do to mitigate the threat.

One important avenue to pursue, Jim advises, is the development of new drugs. However, a common argument made by drug companies is that they “need to be guaranteed a reward if they are to invest in developing medicines that are unlikely to deliver the kind of returns that other investments may provide.” Despite this, Jim notes that there is a good reason why pharmaceutical companies should provide financing for early-stage research into solving the problem of antimicrobial resistance: enlightened self-interest.

Drawing from his years at Goldman Sachs, Jim demonstrates that “if the banking industry had shown greater leadership on issues – for example, excessive executive pay – they would have found themselves in a much more favourable environment today.” Similarly, whilst share buybacks in the pharmaceutical industry can sometimes be legitimate, on other occasions they do not seem justified – especially when considered from the standpoint of enlightened self-interest.

He goes on to show how dubious buybacks are not confined to the pharmaceutical industry, and comments that “companies’ ability to minimise their global tax burden, while boosting their earnings per share through buybacks – in some cases financed with debt – does not strike me as a stable trend.” Instead, “industry leaders should begin asking themselves how they can contribute to averting the crises of the future.”

Click here to read the full article.

For more information, or to book Jim O’Neill as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8004.

Brics banker Jim O’Neill goes to war on superbugs

Jim O’Neill speakerJim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs chief economist, is spearheading a mission to tackle antimicrobial resistance, or AMR. The feature of an FT article, he was recruited last year by UK prime minister David Cameron to look for ways to reverse the rising tide of drug-resistant superbugs.

Jim has recently returned from China (pictured above next to President Xi Jinping), where he spent the last week in talks aimed at mobilising Beijing’s support. He argues that “it’s a similar challenge to climate change in that it affects everyone and can only be tackled with cross-border co-operation,” expressing hope that China will make the issue a priority of its G20 presidency next year.

“The western world made a mistake by lecturing the Bric countries about climate change,” he says. “With AMR, they must take charge of the issue because it is in the developing world that the challenge of superbugs is greatest.”

Working on a pro-bono basis from an office at the Wellcome Trust medical charity in London, Jim wants to harness global support for a UN deal on AMR by autumn 2016. An international panel of experts is helping him explore potential solutions.

Click here to read the full article.

For more information, or to book Jim O’Neill as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8004.

“Failure to tackle drug-resistant infections will cost the global economy up to $100tn by 2050” warns Jim O’Neill

Jim O'Neill speakerFormer Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill has commenced Chairing a review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), a position he was appointed to by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Publishing the first AMR paper on Thursday, Jim has warned that antimicrobial resistance is a more certain threat than climate change in the short term, and that “failure to tackle drug-resistant infections will lead to at least 10 million extra deaths a year and cost the global economy up to $100tn by 2050.” Jim goes on to add that “to put that in context, the annual GDP [gross domestic product] of the UK is about $3tn, so this would be the equivalent of around 35 years without the UK contribution to the global economy.”

The stark figures, believed to be the first to quantify the potential impact of AMR – drug-resistant infections or superbugs – will be used to make the case to global leaders that urgent action is needed. The analysis was based on scenarios modelled by researchers Rand Europe and auditors KPMG. They looked at three bacteria – K pneumoniae, E coli and Staphylococcus aureus – out of a group of seven highlighted by the World Health Organisation, as already showing concerning resistance levels. They also examined HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as broader public health issues for which resistance is a concern.

Jim has announced that his team would now be exploring what action could be taken to avert this looming crisis. This would include looking at:

  • How drug use could be changed to reduce the rise of resistance.
  • How to boost the development of new drugs.
  • The need for coherent international action concerning drug use in humans and animals.

Click here to read the report in full.

For more information, or to book Jim O’Neill as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8004.

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