Although researchers and drug developers have been sounding warnings for years about bacteria out-evolving medicine’s arsenal of antibiotics, the crisis is coming to a head. In the United States alone, some 23,000 people are killed each year by infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Threat Report. Many more patients die of other conditions complicated by infection with resistant pathogens. Such maladies cost the health-care system more than $20 billion annually, in part because patients suffering from drug-resistant infections require more than 8 million additional hospital days.
The statistics are sobering, and they’re made even more so by the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved two new classes of antibiotics since 1998. In fact, only five new classes have hit the market in the last 45 years; the vast majority of today’s antibiotics were developed before 1968….