Superbugs in Need of Drugs: Pharmaceutical Companies Not Abiding

June 3, 2007
Internal Medicine World Report, April 2006, Volume 0, Issue 0

Despite the ever-growing problem of antibiotic resistance, few pharmaceutical companies are focusing their drug development efforts on anti-infective agents. The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has issued a plea to Congress to encourage drug companies and biotechnology industries to help fight the war against drug resistance (Clin Infect Dis. 2006; 42:657-668).

The IDSA designates 6 "superbugs" in what they are calling their "hit list" (Table). The society is calling upon Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that encourages the pharmaceutical industry to increase antimicrobial drug development; establish a commission to set antimicrobial discovery priorities; reward companies that develop new drugs with market exclusivity rights; and provide tax credits to encourage research, development, and manufacturing.

George H. Talbot, MD, lead author of the report, told IMWR: "I believe that removing the current disincentives, creating carefully structured incentives, and allowing market forces to work are the first choices. If this does not work, then creating substantial incentives (eg, guaranteed market), as for bioterrorism, is the next step." Dr Talbot said that "primary care physicians may believe that the ?current antibiotic armamentarium is adequate to treat the outpatient infections they encounter in daily practice; however, the occasional patient with a drug-resistant infection that they treat represents the tip of the iceberg, and when such patients are cumulated across the entire United States, the public health burden is substantial. Furthermore, as the population ages and is more likely to be ?hospitalized, immunocompromised, and infected, more drug-resistant ?infections may be seen at a primary care level."?L.B.

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