Not Enough Antibiotics in Drug Development Pipeline, WHO Says

Few in development are innovative enough to target critical, drug-resistant pathogens

(HealthDay News) — Only 12 new antibiotics entered the market between 2017 and 2021, and too few currently are under development against critical pathogens, according to a World Health Organization presentation at the 33rd European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, held from April 15 to 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Valeria Gigante, PhD, from the WHO Antimicrobial Resistance Division in Geneva, and colleagues updated the state of the antibiotic landscape. They reported that of the 12 antibiotics approved, only cefiderocol is able to target all the pathogens deemed critical by WHO. Of the 27 antibiotics currently under development, only solithromycin, which is used to treat community-acquired pneumonia and other infections, is awaiting market authorization and 7 are in phase 3 trials. Only 4 of the 27 have new mechanisms of action, and most are not new drug classes. Only 6 of the 27 are considered innovative enough to overcome antibiotic resistance using WHO criteria, and only 2 of the 6 target highly drug-resistant forms of these microbes.

“There is a major gap regarding products addressing multidrug resistant pathogens, such as Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa,” Gigante said in a statement. “Few new innovative antibiotics are expected in the coming years. We have no silver bullets.”

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