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One approach federal lawmakers have used to jumpstart certain types of drug development has been to offer vouchers to companies that can later be redeemed when seeking approval for yet another medicine. But a new analysis suggests the notion may not be worth the cost if it were used to entice drug makers to develop much-needed antibiotics.

Citing a bill proposed last year to offer vouchers for new antibiotics, the researchers calculated the idea would have cost an extra $4.5 billion in spending on medicines over a 10-year period, had the legislation taken effect in 2007. The excess cost was attributed to the added exclusivity drug makers would have received for medicines that would have otherwise faced competition from lower-cost generics, according to the analysis published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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