Edison Exhibits- antibiotic development

Published on 30-10-2019 08:19:08

Number of antibacterial New Drug Application approvals

Source: CDC

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.


A history of antibiotics

  • 1911: Proto-antibiotics

    Salvarsan (arsphenamine) was first synthesised in 1907 by Alfred Bertheim and promoted for the treatment of syphilis in 1911. The side effects of the arsenic compound were severe but more harmful to the bacteria than the host.

  • 1928: Penicillin discovered

    The antimicrobial effects of penicillin are discovered by Alexander Fleming during experiments with the influenza virus at St Mary’s Hospital. Dr Fleming abandoned his research into penicillin in 1931 after struggling to refine and produce it at scale.

  • 1935: Sulfonamides come into production

    Prontosil becomes the world’s first Sulfonamide-class drug. Developed by Bayer chemists Josef Klarer and Fritz Mietzsch, it was found to be effective in treating infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria.

  • 1940:First recorded penicillin dosing

    Albert Alexander, a police constable suffering from sepsis, is treated with penicillin by Flory and Chain and begins to recover. However, the doctors run out of the drug and Alexander dies. Refined penicillin is still difficult to produce at scale.

  • 1943: Penicillin enters mass production

    Penicillium chrysogenum is discovered. When exposed to x-rays, the strain produced 1,000 times more penicillin than previous Penicillium notatum strains. The drug began to be mass produced.

  • 1948:The advent of tetracyclines

    Chlortetracycline, the first tetracycline, is released. Isolated from Streptomyces bacteria and originally developed from a strand of bacteria found in a hayfield on the University of Missouri campus, the drug was effective against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.

  • 1949: Amphenicols enter the market

    The amphenicol, chloramphenicol, is developed. The drug was the first synthetic antibiotic not extracted from microorganisms.

  • 1952: Erythromycin reaches maturity

    The first Erythromycin drug, illosone, is launched commercially by Eli Lilly.

  • 1958: Vancomycin and a missionary in Borneo

    Vancomycin, developed from a sample of dirt sent by a missionary in Borneo to Dr EC Kornfield, an organic chemist at Eli Lilly, is released as the first glycopeptide-based antibiotic.

  • 1968: Quinolones and lincosamides

    The first quinolone, nalidixic acid, is approved, followed by the first lincosamide, clindamycin, two years later.

  • 1969:Swann Report sounds the alarm

    The Swann Report on the use of Antibiotics in Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine recommends antibiotics are not used in animals if they are depended on for human therapies, due to the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

  • 1978:Seize the carbapenem!

    Merck patents the first carbapenem, imipenem. The drugs were meant for severe multidrug-resistant infections.

  • 1985:Sweden first to ban animal antibiotics

    Sweden is the first country to ban antibiotic promoters in animals.

  • 1988:World Health Organization raises the alarm

    The World Health Organization warns of antibiotic resistance following the use of antibiotic promoters in animals.

  • 2006:The EU joins Sweden

    The EU bans all antibiotic promoters in animals.

  • 2012:US reveals the Generating Antibiotic Incentives NOW Act

    As instances of microbial resistance grow, the Generating Antibiotic Incentives NOW Act (GAIN), part of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, is put in place. The antibacterial drug task force was set up soon after.

  • 2013: Antibiotic resistance officially a global risk factor

    The World Economic Forum places antimicrobial resistance on its global risk register.

  • 2015:US call to arms

    President Obama signs the action plan for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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