Report: Antibiotic pipeline woefully thin

Despite the increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," including strains of MRSA, tuberculosis and C. difficile, Reuters notes the late-stage pipeline for these spreading diseases is non-existent. The next promising antibiotic is still five to six years away from being available to the public. "We're dealing here with a public health emergency of global proportion. If we don't do anything we're just going to see more and more," said WHO's Mario Raviglione, head of the agency's antimicrobial campaign.

Reuters notes that only two new antibiotic classes have been approved in the last 40 years, despite the fact that antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing threat. In a study of 100 Swedish travelers, researchers saw that seven of the eight who had traveled to India returned with cephalosporin-resistant bacteria in their systems. Bacteria containing the difficult-to-treat NDM-1 enzyme are spreading throughout the world, as well as gram-negative bacteria.

"We have more or less a gap of five years without research into new antibiotics," Thomas Lonngren, then-Executive Director of the EMA, said in December 2010. "It's an issue where commercial consideration doesn't really match the public health need." His American counterpart, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, said the same thing in October 2010. "We need new and better drugs--and we need them now," she stated at an event at the National Press Club. "Yet the pipeline is distressingly low."

According to Reuters, the next NDM-1-fighting drug hasn't hit Phase II testing yet, and while more R&D is needed, the necessary profit to stimulate the research is lacking.

- read the Reuters story