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Fixing a ‘market failure’: To develop new antibiotics, upend the incentive structure, experts urge

The superbug Staphylcocus epidermidis is displayed on an agar plate in a lab in Melbourne, Australia. Source: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Superbugs, and our dwindling arsenal of drugs that can successfully combat them, are a serious public health concern. The private sector, however, is largely unwilling to take on the financial risk of developing new drugs that could help. Those treatments bring little if any profit.

But what if U.S. policymakers upended the incentive structure for developing new therapies? What if, for instance, drug makers were granted additional exclusivity in certain situations?

Increasingly, the idea

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