The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority ( BARDA ) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, has banded with the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to “accelerate new antibiotic development,” according to a statement by the HHS.

“Multiple drugs to combat bioterrorism threats and other life-threatening bacterial infections will be developed” under the partnership, the HHS reported.

This marks BARDA’s second partnership with a private company for the purpose of developing “a portfolio of drug candidates with dual uses in treating illnesses caused by bioterrorism agents and antibiotic-resistant infections,” the statement noted.

Under the agreement, BARDA initially will provide $50 million toward product development and could provide up to $170 million for the development of additional products over 5 years. BARDA and AstraZeneca will jointly determine which drug candidates continue to be developed based on technical and financial considerations.

BARDA’s supporting of the development of multiple drug candidates “increases the likelihood that one or more” of AstraZeneca’s drugs will advance to the level of being eligible for consideration by the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

Other potential advantages to the agreement are new antibiotics becoming available in the commercial marketplace, which would diminish the federal government’s need to stockpile these products for biodefense and reduce long-term costs for taxpayers, according to the statement.

The partnership’s inaugural project is an attempt at developing a drug to treat gram-negative infections. This drug candidate combines the two antibiotics aztreonam and avibactam.

In the United States, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are responsible for 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths annually, according to an estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

klennon@frontlinemedcom.com

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