Globally, antimicrobials are a main pillar of medical, veterinary, and agriculture interventions [1,2]. In all cases, resistance of microbes against antimicrobials is prevalent. The problem is exacerbated by the drying up of the antibiotic pipeline, as economic incentives to develop new drugs are very limited. In antifungals, the range of available compounds is also low with only 4 main classes of drugs available to treat fungal infections in humans and 6 main classes used in agriculture, with 1 class, the azoles, used in both .
The problem of drug resistance evolution has been observed early on in the antibiotic era [3,4]. Ultimately, however, the introduction of each antimicrobial resulted in resistance evolution in target and nontarget microbes. In realization of this problem, some antibiotics such as daptomycin were even developed with avoiding resistance evolution in mind, yet it took only 2 years from the introduction of daptomycin until resistance was recorded . But how fast is resistance evolving?
Here, we want to discuss how fast resistance emerges after the introduction of antimicrobials. We base this on widely cited data in the literature for antibiotics ([4–7]; see also Fig 1A, based on ) and compared this to data on antifungal resistance [9,10]. Replotting the antibiotic data (Fig 1B), by displaying the time from introduction to resistance emergence over the year of introduction, suggests that the evolution of antibiotic resistance is accelerating over time. The same trend can be observed for antifungals (Fig 1C and 1D). In the following, we focus on (1) the quality of the underlying data and (2) possible explanations for this pattern of accelerating resistance.