CNN reports in a breathless headline: The World is Running Out of Antibiotics, WHO says.
The article is interesting as a whole. The article begins with a description of the problem:
Too few new antibiotics are under development to combat the threat of multidrug-resistant infections, according to a new World Health Organization report published Tuesday. Adding to the concern: It is likely that the speed of increasing resistance will outpace the slow drug development process.
While the article goes on about these drug shortages, there are no questions as to why too few antibiotics are under development and why the drug development process is so slow. A major reason for the slow development of drugs is drug regulatory agencies like the FDA!
The purpose of drug regulatory agencies is to slow down development of drugs. The FDA (and its global counterparts) require extensive (and expensive) testing, large sample sizes, and the like, all which slow down the development process. If these regulations were loosened, then the speed of development would increase.
However, this is not to say reducing FDA regulations are necessarily desirable. A cost-benefit analysis would need to be done. Are the costs of delayed drug developments, like what the WHO complains about here, worth the benefits from the FDA regulations? It may be, in which case the slow development will have to be accepted. However, if the costs of the delayed development are too high and exceed the benefits of the regulation, then one would need to accept a higher risk of dangerous drugs getting through in favor of quicker drug development.
In an ideal world, we would have both quick development and safe drugs; there wouldn’t need to be a trade-off between the too. But in this less-than-ideal world we live in everything is scarce, including time. Every second spent doing testing and meeting regulatory requirements is one second less to spend on development of new drugs (and vice versa).