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'We don't incentivise pharmaceutical companies'

The Chief Medical Officer for England Dame Sally Davies, has said the danger posed by growing resistance to antibiotics should be ranked alongside terrorism on a list of threats to the nation.

In her annual report, she describes it as a "ticking time bomb" and warns that routine operations could become deadly in just 20 years if we lose the ability to fight infection.

Speaking on the Today programme, she told presenter James Naughtie, "it's about the bugs themselves - naturally they develop resistance so any antibiotic, when introduced, has a limited lifespan before the resistance starts to circulate in the population."

She went on to emphasise the importance of incentivising the scientific development of new antibiotics. "We haven't incentivised pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics," she said.

"If we don't do something in the next few years we will go back to an early 19th Century scenario within 20 years," she warned.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 11 March 2013.

  • 11 Mar 2013
  • From the section Health