Progress in the Fight Against Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria? A Review of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-Approved Antibiotics, 2010-2015

Ann Intern Med. 2016 Sep 6;165(5):363-72. doi: 10.7326/M16-0291. Epub 2016 May 24.


A weak antibiotic pipeline and the increase in drug-resistant pathogens have led to calls for more new antibiotics. Eight new antibiotics were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between January 2010 and December 2015: ceftaroline, fidaxomicin, bedaquiline, dalbavancin, tedizolid, oritavancin, ceftolozane-tazobactam, and ceftazidime-avibactam. This study evaluates the development course and pivotal trials of these antibiotics for their innovativeness, development process, documented patient outcomes, and cost. Data sources were FDA approval packages and databases (January 2010 to December 2015); the Red Book (Truven Health Analytics); Orange Book: Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (FDA); and supplementary information from company filings, press releases, and media reports. Four antibiotics were approved for acute bacterial skin and skin-structure infection. Seven had similar mechanisms of action to those of previously approved drugs. Six were initially developed by small to midsized companies, and 7 are currently marketed by 1 of 3 large companies. The drugs spent a median of 6.2 years in clinical trials (interquartile range [IQR], 5.4 to 8.8 years) and 8 months in FDA review (IQR, 7.5 to 8 months). The median number of patients enrolled in the pivotal trials was 666 (IQR, 553 to 739 patients; full range, 44 to 1005 patients), and median trial duration was 18 months (IQR, 15 to 22 months). Seven drugs were approved on the basis of pivotal trials evaluating noninferiority. One drug demonstrated superiority on an exploratory secondary end point, 2 showed decreased efficacy in patients with renal insufficiency, and 1 showed increased mortality compared with older drugs. Seven of the drugs are substantially more expensive than their trial comparators. Limitations are that future research may show benefit to patients, new drugs from older classes may show superior effectiveness in specific patient populations, and initial U.S. prices for each new antibiotic were obtained from public sources. Recently marketed antibiotics are more expensive but have been approved without evidence of clinical superiority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / economics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / standards
  • Drug Approval*
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents