Drug-Resistant Infections: A Threat to Our Economic Future


Drug-resistant infections occur when pathogens change in ways that render antimicrobial drugs ineffective. As a result, the pathogens survive and continue to spread. When infections are treatable with antimicrobials, people can be cured and further spread within the population can be readily contained. This has saved hundreds of millions of lives since wide use of these “miracle drugs” started over 70 years ago. Loss of drug-effectiveness because of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is increasing in both developing and developed countries. If this trend continues unchecked, the world will confront a reality where many infectious diseases have “no cure and no vaccine.”

This report provides insights into the extent and broad patterns of the economic impacts of AMR and their implications for poverty, should AMR continue to increase because of inadequate collective actions. Echoing other recent studies, this report underscores that the likely direct and indirect economic damage would be substantial. The annual costs could be as large as those of the global financial crisis that started in 2008.

The costly impacts of AMR on GDP would be worse in two respects, however: they would be felt during the entire simulation period (which extends to 2050) and inequality between countries would increase because low-income countries would experience the largest shortfalls in economic growth.