04 May 2014

No new classes of antibiotics

Chart via The Dish. Think Progress offers this explanation:
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Tom Frieden, recently pointed out that if we don’t act on this issue soon, “our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”

Nonetheless, research in this area has largely stalled, and only a handful of new antibiotics have been created over the past decade. That’s partly because it isn’t as profitable for pharmaceutical companies to invest in creating new drugs. Last year, the U.S. government formed a partnership with a pharma giant in the hopes of spurring innovation. Some infectious disease experts are urging Congress to pass tax credits to encourage the development of new antibiotics.
That doesn't mean that we have no new antibiotics, because there are varieties of drugs within these classes.  But when organisms develop drug resistance, it often spans the entire class.


  1. During World War Two, the United States Army needed a lot more ammunition, and so it set up a whole bunch of additional ammunition plants around the country (excluding sites close to the vulnerable coast). But rather then operating it themselves, they hired various companies to operate them, these becoming known as GOCO for Government Owned, Contractor Operated facilities. I have come to believe that the United States Government should either do the same thing today, or perhaps operate it themselves in a couple of areas of biomedical research and production. Such a facility could produce flu vaccines and other drugs not profitable for Big Pharmaceutical companies to produce, as well as perform research into other related areas. These could then be offered to Big Pharmaceutical companies for production, with sale of the resulting drugs (to Big Pharma) helping to pay for the government run facility.

    1. We have one of those just up the road from Madison - the Badger Army Ammunition Plant. In recent years it was decommissioned, the buildings demolished, and now the 7000+ acres are being opened to the public for recreational purposes. I plan to be out there to survey the butterfly population in just a few weeks when it's a little warmer.

  2. Unfortunately antibiotics have worked so well for so long and have built up such a strong reputation for working that they've been over prescribed to humans and over fed to animals.

    Fortunately there are other alternatives that are just as effective namely: Chlorine dioxide, biocides, nano-colloids of silver, and various types of electromagnetic therapies. But how many biomedical research labs are actually researching and developing products based on these alternatives? I'd be surprised to see just one. You can't patent basic chemicals, biocides, or electricity. No patent, no interest.

  3. For most of my career, I've worked for companies that develop molecular diagnostics aimed at detecting even tiny levels of bacteria and virii present in a sample. Some of the nastiest that I've worked with includes Anthrax, but more common and sinister is MRSA and VRSA (methicillin and vancomycin resistant forms of staph). It's startling to see the reports around the world that show how overuse of antibiotics has harmed the inhabitants of this planet - and I'm not an eco-warrior by anyone's definition. A CBS article (and several others out there) back a few years ago detailed Norway's approach to antibiotic overuse. If you're interested, here's the CBS article:


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