IDSA urges increased antibiotic development

To avert a looming public health crisis with a unique set of underlying causes, Congress and the administration, including federal public health agencies, must act quickly to reinvigorate pharmaceutical investment in antibiotic research and development (R&D). Otherwise, doctors won’t have drugs to protect Americans against antibiotic-resistant infections — a rapidly growing and often deadly problem. That is the key message of a recent report by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). The IDSA recently presented its findings and recommendations to Congress and federal policy-makers.

While the number of drug-resistant infections continues to rise, the number of new antibiotics in the pipeline to treat these infections is drastically declining. Major pharmaceutical companies have abandoned or drastically cut back their antibiotic development efforts because of the unique challenges to making antibiotics profitable.

For example, antibiotics produce a weak return on investment for manufacturers because they work so well and so fast. Highlights of proposed policy and administrative actions in the report include the following:

  • Establish an independent Commission to Prioritize Antimicrobial Discovery. This commission would decide which infectious pathogens to target using legislative incentives and administrative solutions.
  • Create a new type of wild-card patent extension: A company that develops and receives approval for a priority antibiotic could extend the market exclusivity period of another Food and Drug Administration-approved drug as long as the company commits to invest a portion of the profits derived during the extension period back into antibiotic R&D.
  • Provide tax incentives for R&D of priority antibiotics.
  • Establish measured liability protections similar to those that exist for childhood vaccines.

Bad Bugs, No Drugs: As Antibiotic Discovery Stagnates A Public Health Crisis Brews is available on the IDSA web site: www.idsociety.org.