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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 159-160
Adult Infectious Disease Notes

Where are all the new antibiotics? The new antibiotic paradox

JM Conly1 and BL Johnston2

1Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medicine, and Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta;, Canada
2Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Received 29 March 2005; Accepted 29 March 2005

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


At the beginning of the 20th century, illnesses caused by infectious agents ranked among the most common causes of death in North America and, indeed, worldwide. By the middle of the century, dramatic advances in the diagnosis, management and prevention of infectious diseases had occurred, and hopes were raised that many infectious diseases would be eliminated by the end of the 20th century. Much of this success in the management of infectious diseases was related to a continuous new armamentarium of antibiotics. The discovery of penicillin by Fleming in 1928 followed by the discovery and clinical use of sulphonamides in the 1930s heralded the age of modern antibiotherapy (1,2). Penicillin came into widespread use during the early 1940s. By the 1950s, the 'golden era' of antibiotic development and use was well underway, and multiple new classes of antibiotics were introduced over the next two decades (Table 1) (3).