Dude, I want my money back

Imagine showing up at the pharmacy, prescription in hand for your bacterial-driven chest infection, only to be told, Sorry, we’re out of that—as if you were ordering soup of the day at Olive Garden and arrived shortly before closing.

That’s what’s meant by a post antibiotic era where the basic equation is (1) Bugs have become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics we have thus rendering them ineffective, therefore (2) We should have been developing new antibiotics all along but, oops, we never did get around to it.

The reason is money. It costs more than $2.5 billion and takes more than ten years to develop a new medicine. Which is all well and good if thw problem is, say, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, in which case you’ll be on a costly drug for the rest of your life.

Antibiotics, on the other hand, have a major flaw: they actually cure your illness—in a week. And they don’t cost much either. So if you’re in charge of The Very Big Drug Company of America, guess where you’re going to put your R & D money (you have shareholders to satisfy too, remember).

We’re sharing the interview below because it’s a smart discussion on where we’re at with the resistance issue in general. The return on investment discussion begins at 8:45. And we meet the interesting Hazel Barton, PhD, who isn’t waiting around for drug companies to discover new antibiotics. As these drugs are purified from organisms found in nature, her scientific life of adventure seeks them out through deep cave exploration.

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