A number of pharmaceutical manufacturers have agreed to cooperate to develop drugs to counteract the growing threat to human lives of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
For some time it has been known that bacteria are not being killed off by the present range of available antibiotics.
This means that even simple medical procedures, such as tooth extraction, could result in an infection which proves impossible to cure.
The pharmaceutical firms have known this, but have not been encouraged to seek new antibiotics, in part because the high cost of research is not offset by profits in the same way as new cancer drugs for which the companies can charge far more.
Now a number of pharmaceutical giants, such as GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, have said they will join forces to develop new treatments.
The Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance was signed last week by 85 firms covering diagnostic, biotech and generic fields as well as nine industry associations.
It plans to lobby governments to support new drug development and to look for new commercial models. One concept being considered is for the return on investment based on a lump sum from one or several governments instead of relying on income from the sale of prescriptions.
In such a scenario, drug companies would not need to market the product or encourage sales and this should reduce irresponsible overuse of antibiotics.