The above graph reveals a trend of shrinking antibiotic FDA approvals from the late 1980s as antibiotics began to prove less profitable. The average course of antibiotics lasts around 12 days, curing the disease in the process. In comparison, an ageing population’s chronic, long-lasting oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases provide consistent, sometimes lifelong, profits for pharmaceutical companies until loss of exclusivity.
At the same time, in Europe the median number of deaths attributable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria doubled between 2007 and 2015, increasing the demand for new antibiotics while supply fell. In this environment, a number of regulatory incentives have been put in place to help in the creation of antibiotics, but development remains lax compared to the past.