"Right now, pharmaceutical companies are rewarded for actions that conflict with the public health goal of reducing antibiotic resistance," Outterson says. "That has to stop."
The analysis in Health Affairs crafts an innovative solution to the problem, one that gives pharmaceutical companies financial incentives to market drugs in a way that would keep resistance rates at low levels.
Specifically, Kesselheim and Outterson suggest that government experts study the rates of resistance and set "effectiveness targets" for newly approved antibiotics. To meet those goals, which the authors say would be based on factors related to the disease targeted by the antibiotic, such as lower resistance rates, drug companies would need to coordinate with physicians and hospitals so that the drugs are prescribed only when clinically indicated. Such action would remove the current incentive to oversell.
Companies that met the predetermined targets (achieved through responsible use of the drugs) would be rewarded. For example, the authors suggest that Medicare could pay a bonus to companies producing drugs that meet their resistance targets. Or policy-makers could grant such companies extended market exclusivity so they could continue to earn revenuesas long as the drug use remained within the target zone.
Such a policy could help slow development of resistance in microbes and ensure new antibiotics have a longer shelf life, a bonus that would help not just individual patients but society as a whole, Kesselheim and Outterson predict.
The authors, and other experts, say that the United States must adopt more comprehensive strategies that give drug companies and others incentives to reduce antibiotic resistance. For example, hospitals should be financially rewarded for adhering to strict infection-control practic
|Contact: Becky Wexler|