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The cost of drugs for a dead disease

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The US government has taken delivery of the first drug said to cure smallpox. It was developed under a government plan to buy biodefence drugs that would otherwise stall in development for lack of a market. The country plans to buy enough to treat two million people, for $410 million.

On the face of it, that looks like a good plan. Yet as New Scientist reported this week, thousands of people are dying from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, for want of just such funding for new antibiotics. No one has died of smallpox since the disease was declared eradicated in 1980. So what's going on?

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