Manal Haddad

Super Bugs are Winning and Big Pharma is Leaving Antibiotics Alone

Over the years, the appearance of superbugs has been growing and they have started to make an impact which is very disturbing. Superbugs are a term used for bacteria, viruses and other harmful antibodies that have mutated to build resistance against the current antibiotics that are being administered.

While herd immunity has been great at helping communities keep these superbugs at bay, various big pharma companies have indulged in research and development of antibiotics that can be used to counter the harmful impact of superbugs.

Faster than the Speed of Light

However, the success rate in this department has been limited at best with pharma companies having spent millions to develop medication that is underperforming in the marketplace and generating a loss with each passing year. With the cost of research rising as well, more and more pharma companies have been stepping away from this fight against the superbugs as the losses they face are not making this a feasible route for them take.

Another major factor that is making pharma companies turn away is the fact that these superbugs are developing resistance faster than they can make the antibiotics. By the time the medication is researched, developed, tested and released, the bugs have evolved to develop a resistance to it. Similarly, patients can also develop resistance to antibiotics, which means that they have to be used sparingly, which isn’t helping sales at the moment.

Another One Bites the Dust

While other pharma industry leaders such as Sanofi, AstraZeneca Plc, Allergan Plc and Medicines Co. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc had slowly been backing away, Novartis AG has also joined their ranks. This has drawn major concern, particularly because in 2016, at the World Economic Forum, many of these companies, including Glaxo and Novartis, had pledged their support in trying to fight the threat that these superbugs are posing.

It is being speculated that by 2050, around 10 million people in the UK alone, would die without proper medication. The high risk that this situation poses has even got various governments involved. In Denmark, a $165million fund was launched for combating antimicrobial resistance. In the US, protection of subsidies and patents are being offered to pharma companies who are willing to invest their time and effort into this fight.

There is Still Hope

It is hoped that the departure of Novartis from this branch of research and development is going to place pressure on other pharma companies to rise to the occasion as well find ways to correct the failings of the market.

Moreover, Novartis’s departure is not a complete loss. Much like its predecessors, Novartis will most likely be handing the assets it has for antibiotics to smaller companies in biotech that are willing to shoulder the high risks that come with it. Luckily, there are many companies who are willing to stand up to the challenge so the future isn’t too bleak right now.

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