- The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is teaming up with AstraZeneca to develop multiple drugs to combat bioterrorism threats and multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.
- This is the second strategic agreement between the ASPR's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and a private biopharma company to develop a portfolio of drugs.
- This is different than most work that BARDA does, because traditionally it support development of individual products, versus development of an entire portfolio of drugs.
The stage was set for these types of collaborative partnerships when the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria was released in March. One provision of this plan was to have BARDA set up another partnership with a biopharma company. BARDA is providing $50 million up front, with the potential to provide $170 million over the next five years.
The first drug candidate in this team's portfolio is ATM-AVI, which is a combination of two antibiotics—Aztreonam and Avibactam. The combo drug is being developed to treat gram-negative infections, for which there are insufficient treatment options. A similar partnership in Europe is also working on ATM-AVI, moving the product into phase 2.
It's clear that there is an urgent need for antibiotics to address multi-drug resistent organisms. Anti-resistant bacteria are reponsible for roughly two million infections and 23,000 deaths—at a cost of $35 billion each year.