There is a staggering array of antibiotics available to the modern clinician, from the old standby, penicillin, to the newest antibiotic available. “Old” antibiotics, penicillin and the sulfonamides, are effective most of the time in treating routine outpatient infections. When enough infections that don’t respond to the ‘old standbys’ arise, new antibiotics soon follow.
Between 1945 and 1968, drug companies invented 13 new categories of antibiotics, but between 1968 and today, just two new categories of antibiotics have been added. According to the National Institutes of Health the lack of new antibiotics is threefold:
- There is not much money in it;
- Inventing new antibiotics is technically challenging;
- In light of drug safety concerns, the FDA has made it difficult for companies to get new antibiotics approved.