An analysis of FDA-approved drugs for infectious disease: antibacterial agents

Drug Discov Today. 2014 Sep;19(9):1283-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2014.07.005. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


Drugs targeting infectious diseases have greatly improved public health. A study to evaluate all US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved new molecular entities (NMEs) reveals that the number of new agents targeting infectious disease peaked during the 1990s and declined rapidly thereafter. Molecules targeting bacterial pathogens represent the most common component of anti-infectives followed by antivirals and antifungals. Focusing on antibacterial agents, an increase in new NMEs predominated from the 1960s through to the 1990s, dropping sharply thereafter. Obsolescence and resistance has eliminated one-third of these drugs. Consequently, the arsenal of antibiotics peaked in 2000 and is declining. Likewise, the number of organizations awarded at least one NME for a bacterial indication has declined to a level not seen in more than a half century.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Drug Approval*
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents