A new European consortium Driving Reinvestment in research and development and Responsible Antibiotic Use (Drive AB) has been launched, to deal with the growing global threat of antibiotic resistance.

It also aims to develop, test and recommend new economic models for the pharmaceutical industry.

Funded by the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the €9.4m public private consortium intends to develop a standard for the responsible use of dwindling reserves of effective antibiotics.

Drive AB project leader Stephan Harbarth from University of Geneva said: "I am very excited about the ambitious DRIVE AB agenda that will be delivered by uniting a unique panel of experts across a range of disciplines including medical, scientific, business and economic sciences across clinical, academic and commercial sectors.

"The €9.4m public private consortium intends to develop a standard for the responsible use of dwindling reserves of effective antibiotics."

"The dual crisis of antibiotic resistance and the near empty antibiotic pipeline pose a real threat to human health. Only collaboration on this scale, involving stakeholders worldwide will be sufficient to address the crisis."

The consortium accommodates partners from 11 European nations, and includes academic institutions, research organisations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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During the next three years, the partners in the consortium will use their experience, expertise and capabilities to create and test new economic models for antibiotic research and development, and to expand investment in this area.

In addition, the consortium will concentrate on maintaining the efficacy and preservation of existing and new drugs.

The project will integrate experience and knowledge from all phases of antibiotic research and development, including financing, clinical use, antibiotic stewardship, quantitative economic modelling and evaluation of public health policies.

Project partners include British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Center for Anti-Infective Agents, Heidelberg University, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) research and development, Roche, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis research and development.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antimicrobial resistance is one of the three biggest threats to human health.