Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit taking place on 7 and 8 July, which will include discussions on incentivising research and development to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
As the only drug-resistant infection to be spread through the air, tuberculosis (TB), is a particular menance and must be prioritised within the G20’s discussions on AMR. I was pleased to see this year’s G20 Health Ministers’ communiqué specifically recognise drug-resistant TB and committed to its prioritisation within the broader AMR agenda.
TB is already the world’s leading infectious killer resulting in 5,000 deaths every day. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, that your party commissioned, noted that TB accounts for a third of AMR deaths and found that - if left unaddressed - by 2050 will have cumulative global economic costs of over US$16 trillion, of which 62% will be felt by G20 nations. It concluded, “tackling TB and drug-resistant TB must be at the heart of any global action against AMR”.
While TB is treatable, treatment involves an arduous six-month course of 4,000 pills and treatment for drug-resistant TB can be up to 450 times more expensive and involves 14,000 pills over 18 months (which can have severe side-effects, including permanent deafness). It is little wonder that less than half of those who start treatment for drug-resistant TB complete the course. The difficulty in all forms of TB treatment is a major driver of the epidemic and therefore of AMR.
No new drugs have entered the standard first-line treatment regimen for fifty years and rising TB infections have been juxtaposed with reductions in investment for TB research and development: there is clearly a lack of viable incentives in the current model.
With this in mind, deliberations at the G20 Leaders’ Summit present a clear opportunity for international agreement on a new mechanism to incentivise research and development to tackle AMR and within that to prioritise research and development to tackle the growing threat of drug-resistant TB, especially as half of all cases of TB and drug-resistant TB – as well as TB deaths – occur in G20 countries.
I would therefore urge the Government to press for the inclusion of a paragraph that recognises that drug-resistant TB is the cornerstone of the global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance in the final G20 Leader’s communiqué.
Given the pressing and global nature of the AMR threat, we welcome the focus that it is being given by the G20 and call for TB to be at the heart of any international action agreed.We must not miss this opportunity.
SW8 1SJ London
+44 20 7793 email@example.com
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