Policy ForumDRUG DEVELOPMENT

Target small firms for antibiotic innovation

Science  30 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6187, pp. 967-969
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251419

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Summary

Antibiotics are an indispensable part of modern medicine. Yet, since the first β-lactam, aminoglycoside, macrolide, tetracycline, and fluoroquinolone classes of antibiotics were discovered and approved from 1940 to 1980, few antibiotics with novel mechanisms of action have been developed (1). At the same time, antibiotic resistance has been on the rise (see photo). Ensuring appropriate use, or stewardship, of antibiotics is critical to ensure that antibiotics retain their effectiveness against pathogens. In addition, the need for new classes of antibiotics has seen increasing international attention. To inform ongoing policy debates, we characterize trends in antibiotic research and development (R&D) over the past two decades.