Why is big Pharma getting out of antibacterial drug discovery?

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2003 Oct;6(5):427-30. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2003.08.003.


Since the advent of the antibiotic era in the late 1940s drug discovery and development has evolved into an expensive, time consuming, cumbersome and bureaucratic process involving multiple interest groups such as pharmaceutical manufacturers, governmental regulatory authorities, patent officers, academic and clinical researchers and trial lawyers. It would seem that the least involved among the interest groups are the consumers of health care themselves. Politicians and the public alike complain loudly about drug prices although fewer and fewer new therapies are being developed. The cost and complexities of drug discovery and development have shifted the investment equation away from the development of drugs targeting short course therapies for acute diseases and towards long-term treatment of chronic conditions. Coupled with the failure of large investments into target-based approaches to produce novel antibacterial agents, companies large and small have exited from this field despite a growing clinical need.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / economics*
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Industry / trends*
  • Humans
  • Politics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents