What price new antibiotics?

While it is remotely possible that there are no more useful antibiotic products to be discovered / created, it seems that the only reason no new ones have been produced is that there is (currently) little chance of profit.

According to New Scientist, the estimated cost of coming up with a new and useful antibiotic is about $2.5 billion. Despite the massive customer base, getting a return from such an outlay is impossible while the market already has off-patent products still selling at low prices.

Here’s the most likely order of events:

  • Big Pharma will avoid antibiotics while cheap, current products are still being sold
  • Public awareness will develop regarding the impotence of current products
  • Big Pharma will work on new antibiotics, and for 5-10 years we will become shockingly more mortal
  • At the same time governments will fund research, and add to the news that we are in trouble
  • Eventually we will either have numerous new & effective antibiotics, or we will go through phases of having useful products and many people dying, or no new antibiotics will be discovered and we are screwed