Antibiotic resistance, a critical public health and national security threat, requires a robust arsenal of novel drugs that bacteria won’t readily outsmart. Yet the pipeline of antibiotics in clinical development isn’t keeping pace with the growing threat of drug-resistant superbugs. In fact, every FDA-approved antibiotic in use today is based on a scientific discovery from 1984 or earlier. Getting a new antibiotic to market is resource-intensive, and the return on investment is relatively low. This stems partly from the public health imperative to use such drugs as little as possible, to preserve their effectiveness and slow the emergence of resistance. As a result, major pharmaceutical companies have backed away from antibiotic development, and the companies remaining in the space struggle to sustain their operations.
Consistent with recommendations from numerous studies and commissions, The Pew Charitable Trusts supports federal incentives, such as those proposed in the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act, to catalyze antibiotic development.