New antibiotics urgently needed

December 03, 2009

An Editorial in this week's Lancet supports recent calls for a global drive on developing new antibiotics. It says prospects for replacing current antimicrobial drugs are poor. Only a single new antibacterial--doripenem--has been approved in the USA since 2006, according to the report Bad Bugs, No Drugs: No ESKAPE! published in January, 2009, by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). A recent EU report was similarly bleak--just 15 antibacterial drugs that offer a potential benefit over existing drugs are in development, and only five have reached phase 3 clinical trials. The Editorial says: "Pharmaceutical companies may not perceive development of antimicrobial drugs to be attractive--owing perhaps to a clinical need restricted to short courses of therapy, and the likelihood that the drugs' useful lives will be truncated by resistance."

The Editorial supports the recent challenge by IDSA to the USA and EU to develop ten new licensed antibiotics within the next 10 years, dubbed the 10 × '20 Initiative. This call followed a summit held on Nov 2𔃁 in Washington, DC, at which US President Barack Obama and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, representing the EU, established a transatlantic task force to encourage research and development of new antimicrobial drugs. The Editorial concludes: "A global strategy is badly needed to enact the 10 × '20 Initiative and create a stable research infrastructure for antimicrobial development. How much money will be available, who will provide it, and how will academic and company researchers work together to surmount obstacles in drug development? Leadership from WHO could help to lift this issue up the public health agenda."
Lancet Press Office. T) +44 (0) 20 72424 4949 E)

For full Editorial, see:


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