Focus on Development of New Antibiotics Becomes Stronger; Pharmaceutical Companies Stress On the Need for Raising Incentives

Published Date : May 30, 2016

With the first bacterial infection from a superbug strain resistant to all available antibiotics recently uncovered in the U.S., the focus on the urgency of devising new antibiotics has become stronger on a global front.

In what looks like a struggle at maintaining profits to back the immense funds companies dole-out to keep up with the intense competition, research for diseases such as cancer, hepatitis C, and other rare diseases, and clinical trials, global pharmaceutical giants have taken the backseat when it comes to the development of new varieties of antibiotics.

In the U.S., recently, the case of an infection caused by a superbug was found to be resistant even to colistin, which is an antibiotic reserved for the worst kinds of bacterial infections. In general, antibiotic resistant bacteria lead to over 2 mn serious infections, and nearly 23,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. The situation is worsening across other parts of the world as well and antibiotic resistant bacteria are leading to serious infections across Asia Pacific, Europe, and other parts of the globe.

With cases of antibiotic resistant bacteria being uncovered at an alarming pace across the globe, time is ripe that global drugmakers unite and renew efforts at developing effective cure for infections caused by the highly dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. However, companies state that such efforts will likely require financial incentives as antibiotics are a class of medicines that do not have profits associated with them similar to medicines for diseases such as cancer, which need to be taken on a continuous basis.

Drugmakers have acknowledged that it does not make economic sense for pharmaceutical companies to pour serious resources on work involving the development of antibiotics. The return on investment in the current commercial model is not adequate with the amount of efforts and funds required to put into the research and development efforts.

In response to the rising demand for new antibiotics, nearly 80 pharmaceuticals and diagnostic companies including international giants such as Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co signed a declaration that calls for cooperation from companies and governments to raise incentives for revitalizing research and development of new antibiotics.