Access to Health

Infectious Diseases


Infectious Diseases

Antibiotics have revolutionized medicine and saved millions of lives. Our company has played a major role in antibiotic development extending back to 1938, when the company introduced sulfamerazine, one of the world’s first antibiotics. To this day, we remain one of only a few large pharmaceutical companies involved in the R&D of new antibiotics.

Bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotic medicines are becoming more common—jeopardizing our ability to treat what are historically considered minor infections and increasing the risks associated with secondary infections that can be commonplace with procedures such as surgery, chemotherapy and transplantation. The health and economic consequences of antibiotic resistance are considerable and costly, making it a serious threat to population health that demands a concerted, global response.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. In the European Union, drug-resistant bacteria are estimated to cause 25,000 deaths and cost more than $1.5 billion every year in health care expenses and productivity losses.

Annually in the U.S. at least 2M people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

While the pace of resistance may be slowed through programs that promote the responsible and appropriate use of antibiotics, research must continue into new antibiotics and additional therapeutic and vaccine strategies that address this critical unmet need.

Our company supports policies that promote development of new antibiotics, access to approved medicines, and implementation of strategies to sustain antibiotic efficacy for future generations. The response to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires a comprehensive, global approach and meaningful collaboration between stakeholders, including governments, industry, health care providers, and patients.

Our company’s long-standing commitment to the global fight against infectious disease goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to help slow the rate of emergence of potentially deadly resistant organisms.


As a leader in the fight against infectious diseases, we are committed to:

  • Maintaining active R&D programs to address unmet medical needs in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases
  • Monitoring antibacterial resistance and emergence in collaboration with external partners, as exemplified by our long-standing commitment to surveillance studies
  • Supporting responsible use of antimicrobials to help slow development of resistance and preserve current therapeutic options
  • Advocating for improvements in regulatory guidance and financial incentives to support and accelerate innovation in the development of new antimicrobials, vaccines, services and solutions

An added challenge in the ongoing battle against resistant infections is the fact that, while resistance is increasing, the number of new antimicrobial medicines being developed has decreased over the past several years. Discovering novel medicines to combat resistant bacteria requires more effort, and the perceived commercial value of such medicines is low when compared with other disease treatments.

Continued innovation in developing new medicines is critical to addressing the growing resistance to current therapies. We are committed to working with partners to help address this growing area of unmet need and improve patient outcomes. Antimicrobial research remains a key priority for the company. We are one of only a handful of pharmaceutical companies that continue to have active antibacterial discovery and development programs.

We continue to invest internally and externally through collaborations in multiple development programs spanning discovery through late-stage development. Our current portfolio includes products with expected activity against several pathogens identified by the CDC as urgent threats. In total, we currently have more than 15 ongoing clinical trials evaluating antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral agents for the prevention and treatment of infectious disease. These trials are projected to enroll approximately 8,000 patients.

Our company’s commitment to expanding its antibiotic capabilities was further reinforced in January 2015, when we finalized the acquisition of Cubist. Cubist’s portfolio complements our own broad portfolio of antibiotics, antifungals and anesthetics. The combination of the two companies will advance a pipeline of candidates that hold the potential for making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients around the world.

In April 2015, during the 25th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), our company reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to discovering and developing novel medicines in the global fight against infectious diseases, including infections caused by resistant bacteria and other pathogens. Learn more.


Continued innovation in developing new anti-infective medicines is critical to addressing growing unmet medical needs and mitigating the growing problem of antibiotic and antifungal resistance. In addition to in-house anti-infective research efforts, our company augments its expertise and resources by collaborating with scientists around the world. The company is committed to working with partners to help address this unmet need and recognizes that new methods and a broader scope of partnering—with both public and private entities—are essential to harnessing innovation.

Since 2002, we have sponsored the Study for Monitoring Antimicrobial Resistance Trends (SMART). The SMART program is one of the world’s largest programs for tracking trends in antimicrobial resistance. The information collected and shared is designed to help local and global health agencies improve surveillance so they can better understand trends in antimicrobial resistance and select appropriate antibiotics for their patients.

Other collaborations include:

Medina Discovery, Spain—Collaboration in the areas of microbiology and natural product chemistry, with a focus on screening and validation of drug targets for infectious disease

Orchid Pharma, India—A collaborative research agreement focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel agents for the treatment of bacterial and fungal infections

Center of Excellence for Translational Medicine, U.S.—A program funded by a National Institutes of Health grant to Rutgers University supporting multiple academic and industry groups in collaboration to advance the discovery of novel antimicrobial agents

In addition, we actively collaborate with leading scientists in antimicrobial research to investigate and validate novel therapeutic targets, evaluate new pathways for drug targeting, and develop novel tools and technologies to aid research. We have a number of ongoing collaborations with scientists at universities including Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Learn More.


By providing the broad scientific community with access to research tools and information, we recognize that we can fuel basic research and potentially expedite scientific progress toward the development of new anti-infective agents. In the last five years, our researchers have published more than 30 peer-reviewed research articles. Our company also provides access for researchers to publish small-molecule chemical probes and genetic tools, as well as recent clinical isolates and genetically engineered libraries of disease-relevant bacterial and fungal strains developed in our laboratories.