"Tighter controls on prescriptions, or a tax on antibiotics, might address the conservation problem."Principle: the market is smarter than you. Smarter than me, too, but in this case I apparently don't have to be that smart. Solving the conservation problem is straightforward.
"If the market doesn’t work, why not try the government?
Even many libertarian types agree that the commons problem seems to call for stronger state controls over antibiotics." (Pathway.)
Solution in 50 words or less:
First, make sure its health insurance, not healthcare insurance. The insurer should pay up whenever the customer gets sick. (How does this [ctrl-f "Stanford"] happen without collusion from the insurance companies?)
Next, sell the rights to antibiotics, wholesale, to the insurer. They decide who gets what chemical, when, and how much.
The insurer has a a short-term financial incentive to use the antiobiotics, and long-term incentive to see that they still work later. The drug firms don't have to take on the market risk at all, but have an incentive to produce any chemical the insurers will buy. The insurers have an incentive to buy new chemicals that work, but only to use the cheapest that will work, and have the resources to professionally check that they work.
It aligns incentives for cooperation with the patient, all the way down the board. (Except the government, which sees an opportunity for overreach disappear.)
However, there is a flaw here; the third world.
"Laxminarayan likens antibiotics resistance to global warming: every country needs to solve its own problems and cooperate—but if it doesn’t, we all suffer. Coordinating a global response will require years, even decades; any serious revision to the patent system might have to go through the World Trade Organization."They don't care about our insurance companies, and it's pretty easy to copy an existing drug. Resistance could develop there and then spread to here.
There's a straightforward non-combat solution, in globalizing the market better. This can't help in time, but is a nice illustration of how (principle:) past coercion destroys future non-coercive solutions, which implies that it is still worth ending current coercion to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
Note, however, that all the solutions McArdle mentions have the exact same problem. (Are there any problems that markets have and governments don't? It seems unlikely in principle; they're both staffed by human beings.)
"The longer we ignore our problem, as Orwell did, the more likely we are to share his fate."Who's 'we'? I'm on board with solving antibiotic resistance. By how much does that increase the odds that the problem will be solved, do you estimate?