December 10, 2014, 7:55 pm ET (FRONTLINE)
Failing to fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs risks causing 10 million deaths annually and could cost the global economy up to $100 trillion by 2050, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report, from a group commissioned by British Prime Minister David Cameron to study the issue, is just the latest reminder of the growing threat posed by drug-resistant bacteria. A separate analysis released last week found such superbugs killed 58,000 Indian infants in 2013.
Bacteria naturally evolve to resist drugs, but they are evolving faster and faster due to the overuse of common antibiotics in humans and animals, including in medical treatment and on farms.
Most previous research has focused on the human costs of antibiotic resistance, but Wednesday’s report places a price tag on the threat.
The analysis, produced by the RAND Corporation, a public policy research organization, and the accounting firm KPMG, projects that unless antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is prioritized and defeated, an average of 10 million people will die every year by 2050.
Over that same period, the decrease in population, the report found, would reduce global GDP by as much as 3.5 percent, erasing between $60 trillion and $100 trillion in economic activity.