Press Release

RFF Launches Global Antibiotic Resistance Initiative

Jan 7, 2009

MEDIA CONTACT: RFF Office of Communications, 202-328-5026

WASHINGTON, DC – Resources for the Future today launched a new global health initiative to explore incentives to slow the development and spread of resistance to lifesaving antibiotics by promoting their prudent use in developing nations.

The Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership was established  with the support of a grant of more than $2 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The three-year initiative, to be led by RFF Senior Fellow Ramanan Laxminarayan, will build on the Extending the Cure project, which works to delay the emergence of widespread antibiotic resistance in the United States.

“The problem of antimicrobial resistance has gone largely unrecognized in developing countries at the same time that it has gained immediacy in high-income countries,” says Laxminarayan. “Yet it is in the developing countries – where antibiotic use is rising rapidly and the poor lack access to expensive second-line drugs – that the health impact of resistance will be most acute.”

Resources for the Future researchers will work with national working groups in five emerging economies – China, India, South Africa, Kenya, and Vietnam – to investigate opportunities for policy change.  The initiative encompasses three major components:

  • Developing methods to assess the health and economic burden of antibiotic resistance in the five focus countries;
  • Identifying specific approaches to maintain antibiotic effectiveness using  epidemiological models; and
  • Establishing Working Groups of public health, government, and industry leaders in each country – to tailor specific policy responses to the findings.

According to researchers involved with the project, the key to success will be altering policies to provide incentives for patients, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and other health care professionals to act in society’s best interest.

“We plan to identify country-specific approaches to promote efforts to reduce inappropriate antibiotic sales and prescriptions, greater infection control in hospitals, and encourage use of drug combinations that are less likely to lead to resistance,” Laxminarayan noted.

Founded in 1952, Resources for the Future is an independent policy research organization devoted to analysis of environmental, energy, natural resource, and public health issues.

Founded in 1952, Resources for the Future is an independent and nonpartisan institution.