HHS, drug firm partner to develop new antibiotics

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 3, 2013

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In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, a leading pharmaceutical company is teaming up with the U.S. government to develop new antibiotics to combat bioterrorism threats and growing resistance to the drugs.

The partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is in the Dept. of Health and Human Services, was announced May 21.

As part of the public-private agreement, HHS will give GSK $40 million for the first 18 months. The company could take in a total of $200 million if the agreement is renewed over five years, GSK said. The partnership provides GSK the flexibility to move funding around its antibacterial portfolio, rather than focusing on just one drug candidate, the manufacturer said.

A joint oversight committee will monitor the manufacturer’s progress, make decisions on the allocation of funds and decide on the addition or removal of drug candidates from the portfolio (link).

The collaboration comes as many drug companies are withdrawing from antibacterial research and development, due, in part, to the scientific challenges of manufacturing a novel antibacterial and a lower return on investment, GSK said. When new antibacterial drugs are developed, physicians use them sparingly, compared with drugs for chronic diseases that patients often use for the rest of their lives, medical experts say.

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