There is no market for new antibiotics: this allows an open approach to research and development
Klug DM., Idiris FIM., Blaskovich MAT., von Delft F., Dowson CG., Kirchhelle C., Roberts AP., Singer AC., Todd MH.
There is an increasingly urgent need for new antibiotics, yet there is a significant and persistent economic problem when it comes to developing such medicines. The problem stems from the perceived need for a “market” to drive commercial antibiotic development. In this article, we explore abandoning the market as a prerequisite for successful antibiotic research and development. Once one stops trying to fix a market model that has stopped functioning, one is free to carry out research and development (R&D) in ways that are more openly collaborative, a mechanism that has been demonstrably effective for the R&D underpinning the response to the COVID pandemic. New “open source” research models have great potential for the development of medicines for areas of public health where the traditional profit-driven model struggles to deliver. New financial initiatives, including major push/pull incentives, aimed at fixing the broken antibiotics market provide one possible means for funding an openly collaborative approach to drug development. We argue that now is therefore the time to evaluate, at scale, whether such methods can deliver new medicines through to patients, in a timely manner.