Four of the six largest pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) are not developing antibiotics any more. While almost everyone will use them at some time in their life, people do not use them continuously – and it is the continuously used products that make the most profits. For example, annual sales of cholesterol pill Lipitor are only 10% less than the top five antibiotic products combined. With doctors sensibly being advised to be more cautious and to prescribe less, and resistance growing, Big Pharma sees it as a declining market.
Up until the mid-70s ten different types of antibiotic were developed. Since then, all new antibiotics have been derived from existing products – they’ve just patched them up so that they’ll work again. Resistance arises quickly. This means that our only salvation will be new types of antibiotic developed by smaller companies.
Fortunately new products are being developed, with Optimer leading the way with five. Pharma companies Trius and Cubist are also in late-stage trials.
Full story is at Bloomberg.