Tracking the Pipeline of Antibiotics in Development

Tracking the Pipeline of Antibiotics in Development
Last Updated March 9, 2021

Drug-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, present a serious and worsening threat to human health. A majority of doctors have encountered patients with infections that do not respond to available treatments, and when new drugs come to market, bacteria can quickly develop resistance. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans fight more than 2.8 million serious infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 35,000 die as a result. A sustained and robust pipeline of new antibacterial drugs and novel therapies is critical to ensure that new interventions keep pace with these evolving pathogens.

To shed light on the pipeline, evaluate public policies, and monitor the potential impact on public health, The Pew Charitable Trusts tracks products in clinical development globally with the potential to treat or prevent serious bacterial infections. Products fall into two broad categories: antibiotics and nontraditional approaches, including peptide immunomodulators, vaccines, lysins, virulence inhibitors, antibodies, and probiotics.

These analyses are updated periodically and are complemented by research to shed light on the urgent need for new treatments for patients with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

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Technical assistance
Issue Brief

Tracking the Global Pipeline of Antibiotics in Development, March 2021

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Issue Brief

Tracking the Global Pipeline of Antibiotics in Development, March 2021

Drug-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, present a serious and worsening threat to human health. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.8 million Americans acquire serious infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and 35,000 of them die as a result.

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Issue Brief

Assessment of Nontraditional Products in Development to Combat Bacterial Infections, March 2021

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Issue Brief

Assessment of Nontraditional Products in Development to Combat Bacterial Infections, March 2021

While antibiotic innovation—finding and designing new types of antibiotics and improving existing drugs—remains essential to combating antibiotic resistance, “outside-the-box” approaches to preventing and treating bacterial infections are also needed. Such nontraditional approaches encompass a variety of products.

Data Visualization

Antibiotics Currently in Global Clinical Development

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Data Visualization

As of December 2019, approximately 41 new antibiotics with the potential to treat serious bacterial infections were in clinical development, and four were approved since the previous update in June 2019. The success rate for clinical drug development is low; historical data show that, generally, only 1 in 5 infectious disease products that enter human testing (phase 1 clinical trials) will be approved for patients.

Data Visualization

Nontraditional Products for Bacterial Infections

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Data Visualization

As of December 2019, an estimated 30 new nontraditional products with the potential to treat or prevent serious bacterial infections were in clinical development. Below is a snapshot of the current nontraditional products pipeline, based on publicly available information and informed by external experts.

Additional Resources

Data Visualization

Continued Deficiencies in Antibiotic Development since 2014

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Data Visualization

The Pew Charitable Trusts has tracked the pipeline of antibiotics in clinical development since 2014 and has aggregated updates into an interactive tool that illustrates trends in the pipeline—as drugs are either approved, discontinued from development, or remain stagnant. This longitudinal assessment underscores the long-standing concerns of scientists, doctors, public health officials, and other stakeholders regarding the dangerously low number of antibiotics in development to address current and future patient needs, particularly for treating the most urgent bacterial threats, such as Gram-negative pathogens, and those prioritized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Data Visualization

The Critical Need for New Antibiotics

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Data Visualization

In the U.S., there are not enough antibiotics in development to meet current and anticipated patient needs.

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