PHASE III NEARS: Cubist Pharmaceuticals has a promising antibiotic--daptomycin--that the company hopes to have in Phase III clinical trials in late 1998 or early 1999.
Bacteria are back. Following the discovery and introduction into medicine of penicillin in 1941, intense research in microbiology produced a potent armament of antibiotics that all but eliminated a variety of infectious diseases. With this success, many large pharmaceutical companies scaled back research and development of new compounds. But in the last decade, physicians and epidemiologists have seen resistance to antibiotics surge. Along with some pharmaceutical companies, small biotechnology firms now lead the drive against drug- resistant bacteria.

Data collected by the Synercid Microbiology Assessment of Resistance Trends (SMART)--a surveillance project run by the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and the University of Iowa College of Medicine--show increasing drug resistance in the United States. More than 31 percent of 17,000 bacterial...

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