Antibiotic Development Needs Economic Incentives

Current market dynamics put modern health care at risk

The antibiotic market is categorically different from that of other pharmaceuticals. Research and development of any drug is expensive, but antibiotics have comparatively low prices and sales volume.

As a result, the companies making them are going bankrupt, and many potentially lifesaving drugs end up falling into an antibiotic valley of death—dropping out of production before they can reach patients.

Many authoritative reports and commissions have identified the need for economic pull incentives to stimulate urgently needed antibiotic development and help ensure that patients can access these drugs.

Sources: Wellcome Trust, “It’s Time to Fix the Antibiotic Market,” accessed Feb. 12, 2021, https://wellcome.org/what-we-do/ourwork/drug-resistant-infections/its-time-fix-broken-antibiotics-market.

O.J. Wouters et al., “Estimated Research and Development Investment Needed to Bring a New Medicine to Market, 2009-2018,” Journal of the American Medical Association 323, no. 9 (2020): 844, https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.1166.

Needham & Co. LLC, “Antibiotic and Antifungal Update: January 2020” (2020), https://needham.bluematrix.com/sellside/EmailDocViewer?encrypt=7af51ecf-56b6-4827-bd16-3186a8db8715&mime=pdf&co=needham&id.

J. Rex, “Tetraphase Sold For $14m … And $600m Goes Up in Smoke!” Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions, Mar. 23, 2020, https://amr.solutions/2020/03/23/tetraphase-sold-for-14m-and-600m-goes-up-in-smoke/.

DRIVE-AB, “Revitalizing the Antibiotic Pipeline” (2018), http://drive-ab.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/CHHJ5467-Drive-ABMain-Report-180319-WEB.pdf.

© 2021 The Pew Charitable Trusts

 

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