Research and development on new antibiotics falls far short of the challenge of combating drug-resistant bacteria, according to a report from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) published online on April 17, 2013, in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The report notes that only 2 new antibiotics have been approved by the FDA since 2009 and finds that just 7 new drugs are currently in development to treat infections caused by multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacilli bacteria—which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called a “nightmare bacteria” in a March 2013 report.
The report calls for improvements in economic incentives to promote antibiotic research and development, clearer FDA requirements for approval, more funding for research, better prevention of infection, and improved public health efforts, including better collection of data and surveillance of drug resistance and antibiotic use. The report also calls for increased antibiotic stewardship in which health care facilities, providers, and patients make efforts to limit use of antibiotics.
Despite the urgent need for new antibiotics, pharmaceutical companies have significantly reduced their investment in developing them. Underscoring the poor financial prospects for antibiotic development, a press release on the report notes that Polymedix, which had 1 of the 7 new antibiotics in development, filed for bankruptcy in April 2013. In addition, the report indicates that just 4 large pharmaceutical companies have antibiotics in development.