Bacteria continue to outrun drugs — mostly because we aren’t paying nearly enough to win the race.
Two years and 5.6 million deaths into the worst pandemic in a century, I know what you’re thinking: When can we have a real global health crisis?
Well, seek no further: A far more nightmarish catastrophe is already brewing in patients’ bodies, hospitals and other places where deadly microbes gather, writes Therese Raphael. And it’s not just one disease but a microscopic Hydra of bugs, all evolving to become more resistant to lifesaving medicines.
These ailments already kill millions each year, a toll that will only grow because the bugs keep evolving while the drugs don’t, partly because making new antibiotics is bad business for Big Pharma. (As you might have heard, this industry came here to chew bubble gum and rack up ludicrous profits, and it’s all out of bubble gum. A new generic-drug venture by Mark Cuban could be a model for pushing drug prices lower, writes Lisa Jarvis, but it’s got a ways to go to make a dent in the industry.)
Meanwhile, we’ll need to take strategies we used to kinda-sorta defeat Covid, for a certain definition of “defeat,” and apply them to drug-resistant microbes, Therese writes. Much of this will involve using government money to make the economics of producing new treatments work for drugmakers, just as we convinced them to make a bunch of new vaccines. Because, seriously, two global health crises are more than enough. Read the whole thing.