May 27, 2016 / 3:37 AM / a year ago

At G7, Britain presses for global reward system for new antibiotics

(From L) European Council President Donald Tusk, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose for the family photo during the first day of the Group of Seven (G7) summit meetings in Ise Shima, Japan, May 26, 2016.Pool

ISE-SHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - Britain is pushing for a global plan to reward drugs companies for developing new antibiotics, while also pledging to cut antibiotic use in England.

A review commissioned by the British government and published last week said drug companies should agree to "pay or play" in the urgent race to find new antimicrobial medicines to fight the global threat posed by drug-resistant superbug infections.

Former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill, who led the review, said a reward of between $1 billion and $1.5 billion should be paid for any successful new antimicrobial medicine brought to market.

British Prime Minister David Cameron will say at the G7 meeting in Japan on Friday that Britain will work with global finance and health experts to develop such as system to bring the new antibiotics to market and make them available to all who need them.

"The UK will explore with the international community how these rewards could be financed, including through the use of private sector funding," the government said in a statement.

Any use of antibiotics promotes the development and spread of superbugs - multi-drug-resistant infections that evade the antimicrobial and antibiotic drugs designed to kill them.

O'Neill has estimated antimicrobial resistance could kill an extra 10 million people a year and cost up to $100 trillion by 2050 if it is not brought under control.

Britain will use a 50 million pound ($74 million) investment to start a global innovation fund to help develop new antimicrobials as well as diagnostic tools and vaccines.

In England, the government said it will also seek to halve the inappropriate prescription of antibiotics by doctors by 2020 and set an overall target for antibiotic use in livestock and fish farmed for food.($1 = 0.6792 pounds)

Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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