Global Report: 2021 Antibacterial agents in clinical and preclinical development; an overview and analysis

Biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Rod-shaped and spherical bacteria. Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA. 3D illustration


The World Health Organization’s (WHO) “2021 Antibacterial agents in clinical development and preclinical: an overview and analysis” report evaluates the pipelines of antibacterial candidates in different stages of development.

This report presents an analysis of antibacterial agents in preclinical (third annual review) and clinical (fifth annual review) development. The analysis covers traditional (direct-acting small molecules) and non-traditional antibacterial agents in development worldwide. It evaluates to what extent the present pipeline addresses infections caused by WHO Priority PathogensMycobacterium tuberculosis and Clostridioides difficile. The report also provides an assessment of the traditional agents with respect to whether they meet a set of predefined criteria for innovation, namely absence of known cross-resistance, new target, mode of action and/or class. It also includes an overview of the agents that obtained authorization since 1 July 2017.

This report is part of the WHO’s efforts to prioritize and coordinate global research and development (R&D) efforts to address the discovery void in antibacterial drug development.

All of the data contained in this report can be downloaded from the WHO Global Observatory on Health R&D:

Data for the clinical pipeline

Data for the preclinical pipeline

WHO R&D and pipeline infographics:

2020 Antibacterial agents in clinical and preclinical development

Five key points to consider for the development and optimal use of new antibiotics