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From the first antibiotic, penicillin introduced in 1940s, which came into wide scale use in the 1950s, anti-infective drugs to prevent mortality and morbidity arising from infections have unarguably been one of the most effective health interventions(besides chlorination of water and sanitation in general) in the history of modern medicine. Whether used to treat bacterial infections, or tuberculosis, malaria or HIV, these drugs have become a legacy arising from meticulous scientific and medical research over many decades that we all wish to pass on to future generations in as healthy a state as possible.
This aim is getting increasingly threatened by the growing problem of drug resistance in infectious disease agents and itsspread globally. The pattern of emergence of drug resistance is almost uniform, independent of drug or infectious agent. It starts slowly, but then rises rapidly following a sigmoid shape of frequency change over time. The silent phase may be a decade or even longer, and its existence often lulls observers into a false sense of security post widespread use of a new drug.In recent decades, the rate of discovery of novel compounds, especially antibiotics, has slowed down considerably. From discovery to market it typically takes 10-15 years. The current need, therefore, is not only to extend the life of existing drugs but also to encourage discovery and development of new anti-infective drugs to combat the threat that drug resistance presents to human health.
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