Slowing evolution is more effective than enhancing drug development for managing resistance
Nathan S. McClure, Troy Day
(Submitted on 29 Apr 2013)
Drug resistance is a serious public health problem that threatens to thwart our ability to treat many infectious diseases. Repeatedly, the introduction of new drugs has been followed by the evolution of resistance. In principle there are two ways to address this problem: (i) enhancing drug development, and (ii) slowing drug resistance. We present data and a modeling approach based on queueing theory that explores how interventions aimed at these two facets affect the ability of the entire drug supply system to provide service. Analytical and simulation-based results show that, all else equal, slowing the evolution of drug resistance is more effective at ensuring an adequate supply of effective drugs than is enhancing the rate at which new drugs are developed. This lends support to the idea that evolution management is not only a significant component of the solution to the problem of drug resistance, but may in fact be the most important component.