The bad business of developing new antibiotics

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Everyone agrees that the world needs new antibiotics, as the number of drug-resistant infections continues to soar. But there’s little agreement on how to finance their development, and the situation is deteriorating.

What to know: Antibiotics are a bad business, at least based on a current pharma model that’s predicated on volume sales.

Not only because health professionals believe new antibiotics should be used sparingly, so as to retard resistance, but also because some would be targeted at relatively rare infections. That’s driven most incumbents out of the business, bankrupted some pure play developers, and scared off many venture capitalists.”Over the two years I’ve been here, the situation has become more dire,” says Henry Skinner, a former Pfizer and Novartis executive who now leads AMR Action Fund, a $1.2 billion venture capital effort formed by Big Pharma to…

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