Investment in Antibiotics Measures Just 0.7% of UK Research Funding

Over the past five years, only 0.7% of UK research funding has been invested in antibiotics; a problem Dr Steven Bradshaw believes pharma and governments need to work together to address.

Dr Steven Bradshaw, Clinical Trial Research Expert

As a regularly published medical expert with experience in clinical trial research, Dr Steven Bradshaw primarily acts in an advisory capacity to some of the world’s premier pharmaceuticals firms, along with various government think tanks.

Bradshaw’s experience often leads him to comment in the media on the research news of the day, e.g. his recent commentary on the debate raised by the latest incident of stem cell research fraud.

How Much Did the UK Devote to Antibiotics Research in the Past Five Years?

Just 0.7% of UK research funding was invested in antibiotics work in the past five years, according to work published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases by researchers from the University of Birmingham. Considering the current industry fears over antibiotics resistance, Steven Bradshaw considers this finding is more relevant than ever to the work of pharmaceuticals companies going forward.

Specifically, the research revealed that out of a total of £13.85 billion in research funds which were available from between 2008 and last year, only £95 million was devoted to research on antibiotics. Furthermore, European Union funding to the tune of £181.4 million was released to antibiotics research consortia. This included UK-based research teams, encapsulating two EU Innovative Medicines Initiatives awards, which collectively equalled £85.2 million.

What can we learn from the Study’s Findings?

What can we glean from these findings? Essentially, these findings suggest an inadequate level of government funds is currently being devoted to antibiotics research in the UK. Furthermore, it suggests that this will certainly require an urgent increase, to ensure that the UK has the capability to tackle on the on-coming antibiotics resistance crisis effectively, according to the authors of the study.

dr steven bradshaw antibiotics resistance

The authors went on to suggest that “publicly available, subject-specific, funding databases will allow investment in priority areas to be tracked in future.”

The issue of antimicrobial resistance is quickly growing to become a significant global crisis. It is furthermore becoming increasingly clear that the UK, as a leader in biomedical research, has an important role to play in addressing the issue, as the crisis becomes more apparent on an international scale.

However the University of Birmingham’s Laura Piddock, according to Pharmatimes, went on to say that “our study clearly shows that the proportion of public and charitable funding for research into new antibiotics, understanding resistance mechanisms and ways of tackling resistance are inadequate for the size of the task.”

Steven Bradshaw Believes the UK Must Devote More Capital to Antibiotics Research

In Steven Bradshaw’s opinion, the results of this study are clear. The UK is not devoting enough research funds to tackle the challenge of the oncoming antimicrobial crisis. “Most antibiotics are now off-patent (generic) and are cheap; however, the economic burden of endemic antibiotic resistance would be an extremely serious and costly problem for patients and for society. Health services could be totally overwhelmed if this becomes endemic. The sensible approach would be to take precautionary action and invest in new treatments to remain a step ahead”. The pharmaceuticals sector must focus on this issue to ensure that we have the treatments we need to tackle this emerging global medical crisis, but they need the support from policy makers for them to be able to devote the resources to this problem.