How a Small Biotech Survives Amid Looming Antibiotic Crisis

What if the drug that could save you or a loved one from a case of drug-resistant bacterial pneumonia was invented, approved and for sale, but you couldn’t get it?

What if there were several new approved drugs that could fight against a growing threat of aggressive bacterial infections, but the companies making them either have gone bankrupt or they’re struggling to get doctors to prescribe them?

It couldn’t happen, right? Think again.

“Bankruptcy is destroying antibiotics much faster than resistance,” said Kevin Outterson, a Boston University health and disability law professor, in an email to TheStreet.

In the U.S. and around the globe, creating new antibiotics is becoming failing business model — and it’s hurting health care as much as the drugs’ makers. Almost half of the Food and Drug Administration-approved antibiotics in the last decade have suffered an “economic wipe-out” in the past two years, said Outterson, who’s followed the industry for nearly two decades.

The obstacles are many: A broken marketplace for new antibiotics, unrealistic drug pricing expectations and a pervasive belief that new artillery against bacteria should be held onto tightly instead of firing on the front lines.

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