Past Event

Tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Pathological microbes are increasingly resistant to antimicrobial treatments. The resulting health crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing society. At this event, Jim O'Neill will present the Independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance and a panel will discuss how to tackle drug resistance.

Date: July 14, 2016, 12:30 pm Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy


See below for video and presentation.

The medical community has identified antimicrobial resistance as a major issue for human beings. In fact, drug resistance poses a threat to our future development and prosperity, as well as to our health. According to recent studies, the number of deaths attributable to AMR in 2050 could equal 10 million. The figure is alarming, making the estimated number of AMR deaths larger than the amount of victims attributable to cancer (8.2 million in 2050).

Because of its relevance, the AMR must also be treated as an economic issue, and the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance commissioned by the UK government in 2014 is playing a key role for this purpose. A ten-point plan has been developed in the Review for tackling AMR, with public awareness being on top of the list, since the problem is ignored in our society. In order to fight the issue, information campaigns should be carried out, as most people appear to have no clue of what antimicrobial resistance is and why it represents a huge threat. A rise in public awareness towards antimicrobial resistance would also bring results, if people proactively react to it. In fact, a way to reduce the impact of the problem is increasing sanitation and hygiene, which could be done by individuals and constitutes the most effective way of facing the issue.

The plan to tackle AMR suggests to stop using antibiotics in agriculture, environment and food processing. To this extent, more transparency from food producers and retailers and in the whole agricultural sector is needed. In general, our society has to increase surveillance on how antibiotics are used in these fields as well as in medicine. The reduction in use and prescriptions of antibiotics would limit the evolution of bacteria. Rapid and efficient diagnostics could also help: sometimes antibiotics are not useful in medical treatments, and the abuse in prescriptions can only worsen the issue. Antibiotics should only be prescribed if a diagnostic technique is used to prove to the necessity of their use. As an alternative, the medical community should boost the role of vaccines, which would partly reduce the use of antibiotics.

On the research side, new drugs should be developed, both to treat patients with pharmaceutical products other than antibiotics and to tackle antimicrobial resistance directly. However, this also requires an increase in investments in research and global innovation funding: funds from a multiplicity of international stakeholders should be allocated and spent on research in a coordinated and strategic way. It is important to emphasize that action to tackle AMR should be conducted on a global basis, and support to achieve international agreements on what has to be done is needed.

Just committing resources, however, does not lead to the solution of the problem itself. Efforts from policy makers can play a central role. The scarce attention of policy makers to date regarding AMR can be attributed to the low level of information and a missing economic quantification of the problem, both of which would increase the awareness of policy-makers towards it. Moreover, the European Commission also needs directives to clarify which roles it could play as a stakeholder and policy-maker and how it can act in order to influence global action.

As a final remark, we should keep in mind that if we are able, as a global society, to build up an effective and sustainable model for funding research, the issue of AMR can be handled and its impact reduced.

Event notes by Domenico Favoino, Research Assistant


Event Materials

The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance: global solutions to drug-resistant infections | Presentation by Jim O’Neill



James Anderson

Head of Corporate Government Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline

Sally Davies

Chief Medical Officer for England

Charles Knirsch

Vice President, Therapeutic Vaccines Program Lead, Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, Pfizer

Jim O‘Neill

Xavier Prats Monné

Director General, European Commission, DG SANTE

Karen E. Wilson

Former Non-resident Fellow

Location & Contact

Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels

Matilda Sevon

[email protected]

Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Working Paper

Research and innovation policies and productivity growth

Can research and innovation policies power growth? The answer currently can only be a timid yes. Too little is known of what drives the actual effects of R&I policies.

By: Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 10, 2021
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Algorithmic management is the past, not the future of work

Algorithmic management is the twenty-first century’s scientific management. Job quality measures should be included explicitly in health and safety risk assessments for workplace artificial-intelligence systems.

By: Laura Nurski Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 6, 2021
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Working Paper

Reducing mobility of SARS-CoV-2 variants to safeguard containment

Escape variants can cause new waves of COVID-19 and put vaccination strategies at risk. To prevent or delay the global spread of these waves, virus mobility needs to be minimised through screening and testing strategies, which should also cover vaccinated people. The costs of these strategies are minimal compared to the costs to health, society and economy from another wave.

By: Martin Hellwig, Viola Priesemann and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 4, 2021
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Form a climate club: United States, European Union and China

Can the three biggest economies agree a carbon tax on imports to catalyse climate action globally?

Speakers: Simone Tagliapietra, Sheldon Whitehouse and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 3, 2021
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Covid-19 and the geopolitics of the Balkans

How have China, Russia, Turkey and others stepped up their activities in the Balkans at a time when the prospect of enlargement is diminished?

Speakers: Michael Leigh, Pierre Mirel, Aleksandra Tomanić, Justyna Szczudlik and Catherine Wendt Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 29, 2021
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

The External Dimension of the EU's Green Deal: What Role for EU Development Cooperation?

The EU Green Deal's political scope extends far beyond climate neutrality and the European Union. What geopolitical and human repercussions does it have for its partners?

Speakers: Mikaela Gavas, Roberta Lusardi, Carla Montesi, Njuguna Ndung'u and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: April 29, 2021
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

China and the WTO: (How) can they live together?

What changes can be made to make China and the WTO more compatible with each other?

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Anne Krueger, Pascal Lamy, Justin Yifu Lin, Petros C. Mavroidis and André Sapir Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 28, 2021
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Sovereign ratings during crises: is this time different?

Why, despite the increase in public debt levels around the world have sovereign ratings been largely unaffected by the COVID-19 crisis?

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Alexandra Dimitrijevic, Judith Arnal Martínez and Daniel Vernazza Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 27, 2021
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

Vaccine diplomacy: soft power lessons from China and Russia?

The rocky start to the European Union’s vaccination rollout has allowed Moscow and Beijing to score political points in the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe.

By: Michael Leigh Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: April 27, 2021
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

AI regulation at the service of industrial policy?

What role should the EU play in the regulation of AI?

Speakers: Julia Anderson, Joanna Bryson, Annika Linck and Martin Ulbrich Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: April 22, 2021
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Living standards and financial resilience across Europe

What has the impact of the pandemic on households’ financial resilience been, and how should policy makers respond?

Speakers: Romina Boarini, Zsolt Darvas, Maria Demertzis and Daniel Tomlinson Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 21, 2021
Read article More by this author


We need more bias in artificial intelligence

What makes one vision more desirable than another is not its neutrality, but whether it can better serve one’s goals in the context of where those goals are being pursued.

By: Mario Mariniello Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: April 21, 2021
Load more posts