Intended for healthcare professionals


Antibiotic drug research and development

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 11 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2591
  1. Jean-Pierre Paccaud, director of business development
  1. 1Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
  1. jppaccaud{at}

Should it be funded through public-private partnerships to succeed?

Two linked articles highlight two very good reasons for international health authorities and governments to be seriously worried about the emergence of antimicrobial resistance: the worldwide spread of multidrug resistant bacterial strains (doi:10.1136/bmj.e1567) and the paucity of antibacterial compounds currently being researched (doi:10.1136/bmj.e1782).1 2

As antimicrobial resistance spreads worldwide and increasingly affects patients with very little buying power, traditional market forces will no longer provide the antibiotics that the world badly needs. The World Health Organization recently published a thoughtful analysis of the situation, along with measures that should be taken to face the threat.3 However, no clear way of increasing new antibiotic research and development has emerged.

The development of antibiotics has been increasingly challenging in recent years. Despite tremendous advances in the biological sciences, the difficulty in identifying new mechanisms to kill human bacterial pathogens has discouraged the few companies that are still active in the field. Clearly, we can no longer rely on direct competition between private companies alone to drive the emergence of new drugs.

So and colleagues propose sharing the risks of the antibiotic drug development process by spreading the burden across all stakeholders, from academia to the private sector, as a potential answer to the current crisis.2 Such broad sharing of resources, competences, …

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