Cameron calls for global action to tackle growing threat of antibiotics resistance

UK prime minister David Cameron has called for global action for tackling the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics.

Speaking to BBC health correspondent Fergus Walsh, the prime minster warned the world risked the "danger of going back to the dark ages of medicine" if governments and drug firms failed to act.

More infections are now resistant to antibiotics, with no new classes of anti-microbial drugs in the market for over 25 years.

The rise of untreatable bacteria posed one of biggest health threats to the world, threatening an 'unthinkable scenario' where minor infections could kill. Tens of thousands of people were dying of infections that had evolved resistance to common treatments, he said.

The World Health Organisation had warned that routine operations and minor scratches could become fatal if nothing was done.

As part of the effort to address the issue an international group of experts would aim to stimulate the development of a "new generation of antibiotics", The Times reported Cameron as saying.

Cameron told the newspaper that it was not some distant threat but something happening right now. He told the newspaper that failure to take action would lead to an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer worked and the world was cast back into the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries would kill once again.

That, he said, simply could not be allowed to happen and he wanted to see a stronger, more coherent global response.

The international expert group would be led by former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill and would be asked to consider how governments would pay pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs even if they were rarely used.

The group would also consider how poorer countries could be encouraged to improve control of existing antibiotics.

The prime minister told The Times that he had been listening to the scientific advice that he got, and the network of advisers were all saying this is was one of the most serious health problems the world faced.