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 is inadequate to address current—let alone future—patient needs. Getting a new antibiotic to market is resource-intensive, but the return on investment is relatively low. In part this stems 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 to catalyze antibiotic development.