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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is talking with other federal agencies and even the private Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about new ways to encourage drug makers to develop more antibiotics, agency Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a speech Friday.

The problem Gottlieb wants to address is twofold. First, as bacteria become immune to the current arsenal of antibiotic medicines, more than 20,000 Americans are dying each year from these hard-to-treat infections. Drug companies, however, have few financial incentives to develop better drugs.


But Gottlieb has a new idea: Instead of hospitals paying for each individual prescription, they could buy an antibiotic “subscription,” giving them access to a certain number of doses of a particular drug. That could guarantee more money to the manufacturer upfront, enabling the company to more quickly recoup its investment.

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