By Noah Rayman
December 11, 2014

Rising rates of drug-resistant infections could lead to the death of some 10 million people and cost some $100 trillion in 2050.

That’s the startling conclusion of a review commissioned by British Prime Minister David Cameron which has warned that if antimicrobial resistance is not curbed, it could undermine modern medicine and cut up to 3.5% from the global economy.

The threat could also disproportionately affect the developing world, according to the report authored by economist Jim O’Neill, leading to more than 4 million deaths in Africa and 4.7 million deaths in Asia. By comparison, cancer killed 8.2 million people worldwide in 2014.

The report, which will be followed up by a full package of public health recommendations by 2016, called for “coherent international action that spans drug regulation and antimicrobial drugs use across humans, animals and the environment.”

Specifically, the report said that antibacterial research, the use of alternatives like vaccines and international measures to reduce the spread of bacteria could help reduce the threat from drug-resistant infections.

“It would be unforgiveable if the great progress made in combatting infectious diseases could be threatened by the lack of new drugs that are within reach, or for lack of common sense investment in infrastructure that keeps us safe from avoidable infections,” says the report.

Read the entire report here.

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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