Well, we do it for narcotics. From Yahoo News:
International experts debated whether antibiotics merit a separate regulatory drug category at a World Congress held on December 11 and 12 at the Hyatt Regency Boston Hotel. “We proposed this drastic action because antibiotic resistance is undermining infectious disease treatment worldwide and many large pharmaceutical companies are leaving the antibiotic field,” explains Stuart B. Levy, MD, a Tufts Medical School professor and president of APUA, the global public health organization convening the meeting. Pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $800 million to bring a new antibiotic to market. They face time limits on patent protection before others can manufacture and sell the compound without investing in this expensive research. Also pharmaceutical houses are turning to more profitable lifestyle and chronic disease drugs…
“If antibiotics can be given a special category by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, then unique considerations could be applied to them,” says Levy. “By placing antibiotics in a separate regulatory category we could also promote better antibiotic stewardship by patients and doctors and promote responsible industry marketing strategies,” according to Kathy Young, executive director of APUA.
Antibiotics are powerful life-saving medicines for use in serious bacterial infections as diagnosed by a physician. However, casual antibiotic use is the norm in many hospitals and community practices in the U.S. As a result, we are experiencing accelerated evolution of resistant bacteria and increased difficulty of treating infections. According to the CDC, half of medically prescribed antibiotics in the U.S. are unnecessary.
Unlike most drugs, how one patient uses antibiotics can alter how well antibiotics will work in another patient. In other words, if you misuse vancomycin, bacteria can evolve resistance to it, but you misuse Lipitor all you want and it won’t effect someone else’s outcome. We need something, particular since CDC isn’t stepping up to the plate by proposing substantial policies like ‘search and destroy‘.
An aside: The cost to market of an antibiotic is not $800 million. It is $1.2 billion, once things like capitalization are accounted for.