There has not been a new antibiotic class discovered since1987. Which has experts worried.
Antibiotic resistance is now recognized as a major threat to public health. And we have got to a point where there is hardly any treatment alternatives left for some bacterial infections. This means that some illnesses that were once easily treated with antibiotics are now untreatable.
But how has this happened?
Bacteria resistant to antibiotics were discovered even before antibiotics began being used. But in recent years, numbers of resistant bacteria have exploded, with at least 18 different entries now on the CDC’s “Bacteria of concern” list. We are now suffering the consequences of widespread overprescribing, misuse, poorly regulated usage within the agricultural industry, and contamination of our waterways with antibiotic-laced waste.
But why are there so few antibiotics in development?
Well, it is expensive and difficult to develop a new antibiotic drug. Making something get to where it is needed at the right concentration and is toxic to bacteria but not to human cells is not easy. Not to mention the ten years or so it takes to get through all the regulatory hurdles necessary to bring a drug to market. Which means that very few drugs that have the potential to be effective as antibiotics actually make it through the entire process.
We are not going to solve the antibiotic resistance problem, but we can manage it better. You can do