US Government Signs Deal with GSK to Develop Antibiotics

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Partnership will support development of drugs to fight antibiotic resistance and bioterrorism.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), have agreed to a collaboration that will support the development of several antibiotics to fight antibiotic resistance and bioterrorism, GSK announced in a press release.

This public-private agreement is the first time that HHS has taken a “portfolio approach” to funding drug development with a private sector company. The approach provides flexibility to move funding around GSK’s antibacterial portfolio, rather than focusing on just one drug candidate, and allows medicines to be studied for the potential treatment of both conventional and biothreat pathogens.

Under the terms of the agreement, HHS will provide $40 million for the initial 18-month agreement and up to a total of $200 million if the agreement is renewed over five years.

The treatment of drug-resistant bacterial infections is predicted to become a global crisis due to the scarcity of new antibiotics in the pharmaceutical industry’s pipeline and a decrease in investment in R&D. Many companies have, in recent years, withdrawn from antibacterial R&D because of the scientific challenges and a lower return on investment.


“There is an urgent need to address antibiotic resistance and new models are needed to deal with this challenging area of drug development,” said David Payne, head of GSK’s Antibacterial Discovery Performance Unit, in the press release. “We strongly believe that innovative public-private partnerships such as this are integral to solving this critical healthcare issue, and we are delighted to work with BARDA in a more strategic way.”

The work under this agreement will be governed by a BARDA-GSK joint oversight committee that will monitor progress, make decisions on the allocation of funds, and decide on the addition or removal of drug candidates from the portfolio.