AstraZeneca and US Government collaborate to develop new antibiotics

pharmafile | September 17, 2015 | News story | Research and Development AstraZeneca, Azactam, BARDA, Department of Health and Human Services, HHHS, avibactam, aztreonam 

AstraZeneca has entered into a public-private partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services to develop drugs to combat bacterial infections.

The agreement is the second alliance the US Government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has forged with a private company to develop a portfolio of drug candidates with dual uses – treating illnesses caused by antibiotic-resistant infections, as well as those caused by bioterrorism agents.

BARDA and AstraZeneca will manage and fund the portfolio over the next five years and decide jointly which drug candidates move in or out of the portfolio each year, based on technical and financial considerations and each drug candidate’s development progress. 

BARDA’s director Dr Robin Robinson says: “We have a perfect storm forming with a rise in antibiotic resistant infections at a time when most pharmaceutical companies have decreased or halted investment in antibacterial R&D. We’re using our experience in public-private partnerships and unique legislative authority to rejuvenate the interest of pharmaceutical companies in developing such products.”

The first drug candidate in the portfolio combines two antibiotics, Azactam (aztreonam) and avibactam, known together as ATM-AVI.  Avibactam is an antibiotic being developed by Actavis jointly with AstraZeneca. The new drug is being developed to treat Gram-negative infections for which there are currently limited treatment options. The European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) will join BARDA and AstraZeneca in funding additional clinical studies needed to apply for regulatory approval of ATM-AVI.

Novel antibiotics developed under the agreement may become available in the commercial marketplace, which diminishes the federal government’s need to stockpile these products for biodefense and reduces long-term costs for taxpayers.

Dr Robinson added: “This agreement demonstrates our commitment to sustaining the development and approval of new drugs which can help us address our biodefense needs but are also desperately needed to address the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. We are especially excited to be working jointly with IMI to promote the development of new antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and international collaborations must be part of the solution.”

Yasmita Kumar

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