Skip to Content

Report: Antibiotic Research and Revenue Declining

From Associated Press (May 6, 2011)

TRENTON, N.J. -- Prospects for new blockbuster antibiotic drugs are slim as generic competition has slashed revenue in the category and shifted the focus of research to drugs for dangerous superbugs, a research report by Datamonitor says.

That's bad news for brand-name drug makers and their shareholders. It's worse news for patients, because few new antibiotics have come on the market in recent years and bacteria increasingly have become resistant to available drugs, leading to long, costly hospital stays and even deaths.

Datamonitor, a U.K.-based research and strategic consulting firm, reports that research no longer focuses on blockbuster antibiotic pills taken at home, such as Zithromax, which brought Pfizer Inc. about $2 billion in revenue in 2005 before it got generic competition. It treats infections from pneumonia to sexually transmitted diseases.

Testing now is concentrated on powerful, often intravenous antibiotics for hospitalized patients with serious, multi-drug-resistant infections, particularly MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Datamonitor's new report, "Forecast Insight: Antibacterials," predicts revenue from antibiotic sales in the world's top seven markets will decline from $19.6 billion in 2009 to about $16.4 billion in 2019, continuing declines over the past five years. Datamonitor blames generic competition and "a paucity of new product launches."

The top seven markets are the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Total sales there have fallen by about 1.6 percent annually since 2005, and will decline by about 1.8 percent a year through 2019, according to Datamonitor.

In 2009, three antibiotics had annual sales of about $1 billion or more: market leader Levaquin, made by Johnson & Johnson and two partner companies, with nearly $1.5 billion in sales; Zosyn, a broad-spectrum hospital drug sold by Pfizer and Taisho Pharmaceuticals, and Zyvox, a Pfizer drug for MRSA.

Zosyn got generic competition late in 2009, and that's expected for Levaquin this year and for Zyvox in 2015.

By 2019, Datamonitor predicts the antibiotics market will be so fractured that only two of these drugs will achieve sales above $500 million a year, Levaquin and Cubicin from Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Posted: May 2011