November 8, 2010

CONSIDERING FEDERAL SUBSIDIES for antibiotics research? We do need some new ones. “Worried about an impending public health crisis, government officials are considering offering financial incentives to the pharmaceutical industry, like tax breaks and patent extensions, to spur the development of vitally needed antibiotics. While the proposals are still nascent, they have taken on more urgency as bacteria steadily become resistant to virtually all existing drugs at the same time that a considerable number of pharmaceutical giants have abandoned this field in search of more lucrative medicines.” Of course, this is probably yet another case where we need a subsidy to offset the negative impact of overregulation . . . . .

UPDATE: Derek Lowe writes:

I agree that some sort of prize or subsidy would probably be a good idea. And it’s true that some companies left the field because they thought they could make more money somewhere else. But the other reason people have bailed is that finding antibiotics has been a major pain in the whatevers. I did a post on this last year – GlaxoSmithKline made a big multiyear push, and got basically zilch out of it: they found that their screening success rate was an alarming 5 times lower for antibiotics than what they were used to in other fields.

I can confirm (from personal experience) that bacteria are not easy to kill!

Well, that sucks.

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