After their introduction more than 80 years ago, antibiotics saved millions of lives, transforming health care. Now, though, the ubiquitous use of these “wonder drugs” has led to the natural selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—a threat to the very gains once made. Already, antibiotic resistance has been estimated to claim more than 750,000 lives every year. Some of the most dire consequences of this phenomenon could be for the poorest and most vulnerable people in countries that never had adequate access to antibiotics to begin with.

The “ticking timebomb” of antibiotic resistance has emerged under two classic market failures. On the demand side is the tragedy of the commons—the mis- and overuse of antibiotics as a public good. On the supply side is the lack of incentives to develop new antibiotics caused by scientific challenges, high drug development costs, and short drug lifespan due to development of resistance, which call for new business models.

Read the full article about antibiotic resistance by Patricia Geli and Otto Cars at Brookings.