Antibiotics Research Subsidies Weighed by U.S., The New York Times, Published: November 5, 2010
Concerned about an impending public health crisis, government officials are considering offering financial incentives to the pharmaceutical industry, such as tax breaks and patent extensions, to spur the development of vitally needed antibiotics.
The proposals are still in their early stages, but 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. The number of new antibiotics in development is “distressingly low,” Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said at a news conference last month. The world’s weakening arsenal against “superbugs” has prompted scientists to warn that everyday infections could again become a major cause of death just as they were before the advent of penicillin around 1940. Another common and difficult to treat infection is C-Dif.
About 100,000 Americans a year are killed by infections acquired in hospitals, many resistant to multiple antibiotics. For example, Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the best known superbug, now kills more Americans each year than AIDS.
Even though providing subsidies to drug companies may be politically unpopular, proponents argue that it is necessary “to bridge the gap between the high value that new antibiotics have for society and the low returns they provide to drug companies.”
Read more at: Antibiotics Research Subsidies Weighed by U.S. – NYTimes.com.