Monday, March 27Welcome

The bad business of developing new antibiotics

Illustration collage of concentric circles, images of bacteria and COVID.

Illustrated by Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Everyone agrees that the world needs new antibiotics as the number of drug-resistant infections continues to soar. But there is little agreement on how to fund their development, and the situation is getting worse.

Things to know: Antibiotics are bad business, at least based on the current pharmaceutical model that assumes mass marketing.

  • Not only do medical experts believe that newer antibiotics should be used sparingly to slow resistance, but also because some target relatively rare infections.
  • It has forced most incumbents out of business, bankrupted some naive developers, and scared many venture capitalists.
  • “In the two years I’ve been here, the situation has become even more dire.” Antibiotic developer.

News promotion: The AMR Action Fund has struggled to find investment opportunities, with Skinner saying the pipeline is “much thinner than he originally realized.”

  • Today, however, the company announced a new deal. It put about $9 million into BioVersys. BioVersys is a Swiss company with products in clinics targeting specific pulmonary and bloodstream infections that claim up to 100,000 lives each year. There are also early-stage programs, including one targeting multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
  • For BioVersys, this is an extension of the Series C round announced last May. Skinner said the new funding should be enough to advance the company’s flagship product into Phase 3 trials, at which point he believes BioVersys will have sufficient funding (including AMR’s ample reserves). Sure.

Think ahead: Skinner argues that new policies are needed in the US and elsewhere to bring entrepreneurs and VCs back to the table.

  • This could include the passage of the bipartisan Pasteur Act, which Congress hoped to vote on last year. It will create market incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics. This is a bit like what the Orphan Drugs Act did to encourage the development of that industry.
  • Other policies include new controls over physician prescribing to prevent episodes such as when COVID-19 patients are given antibiotics for viral infection (i.e. zero efficacy but increased resistance). May contain rules. Furthermore, in addition to the potential for abuse in areas such as aquaculture.

To the point: “We have a duty to make available to the next generation what was available to us,” says Skinner.

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