Why companies can’t afford to create life-saving drugs.

Antibiotics present a unique economic puzzle. These drugs have changed the world. Yet despite their medical contributions, free market just don't value them.

In a bitter paradox, these products have given life to some of the largest and most profitable pharmaceutical companies of the twentieth century, and yet the market for them has crumbled.

Over the last two decades, Big Pharma that once dominated antibiotic field have closed-shop, saying that the prices they can charge for these life-saving medicines are too low to support the cost of developing them. Most of the companies now working on antibiotics are small biotechnology firms, many of them running on credit, and many of them failing.

About 14% of antibiotics in phase I trials are likely to win U.S. FDA approval. And, the Americans have only approved 15 antibiotics over the past decade, of which 5 are no longer available.

This latest article via @nature presents an insightful overview of the lifespan and complexities of antibiotics.