Antibiotics and Innovation

Antibiotics save untold numbers of human lives every day. Modern medicine depends on their ability to treat and prevent infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and staph. Yet drug-resistant bacteria are spreading in the nation’s communities and too often antibiotics are taken for granted. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that tens of thousands of Americans die each year from infections, and many of those deaths are associated with bacteria that are resistant to treatment by one or more of these drugs. In the past few years, so-called “superbugs” have emerged that cause an even greater public health concern.

The history of antibiotics has repeated itself: drugs are discovered, but bacterial evolution can soon render them ineffective in treating infections. Resistance is fueled by injudicious use of existing drugs and compounded by a failure to develop novel new ones. Many major pharmaceutical companies have limited their investments in thisantibiotic innovation, and only two new classes of these substances have reached the market in the past 30 years.

Pew's antibiotics and innovation project develops and supports policies that will spur innovation of new antibiotics to fight infections today and to ensure a healthy nation in the future.

For more information, contact Nicole Mahoney, project director or visit the antibiotics and innovation project.

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