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Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, reducing our ability to treat infections and threatening to undermine modern health care. Optimising antibiotic use is a key element in tackling the problem. Traditional economic evaluation methods do not capture many of the benefits from improved antibiotic use and the potential impact on resistance. Not capturing these benefits is a major obstacle to optimising antibiotic use, as it fails to incentivise the development and use of interventions to optimise the use of antibiotics and preserve their effectiveness (stewardship interventions). Estimates of the benefits of improving antibiotic use involve considerable uncertainty as they depend on the evolution of resistance and associated health outcomes and costs. Here we discuss how economic evaluation methods might be adapted, in the face of such uncertainties. We propose a threshold-based approach that estimates the minimum resistance-related costs that would need to be averted by an intervention to make it cost-effective. If it is probable that without the intervention costs will exceed the threshold then the intervention should be deemed cost-effective.

Original publication




Journal article


Commun Med (Lond)

Publication Date