Twenty of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies on Thursday announced the creation of a $1 billion fund to buoy financially strapped biotech start-ups that are developing new antibiotics to treat the mounting number of drug-resistant infections responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.
The fund, created in partnership with the World Health Organization and financed by drug behemoths that include Roche, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson, will offer a short-term but desperately needed lifeline for some of the three dozen small antibiotic companies, many of them based in the United States, that have been struggling to draw investment amid a collapsing antibiotics industry.
Over the past year, three American antibiotic start-ups with promising drugs have gone bankrupt, and many of the remaining companies are quickly running out of cash.
The new AMR Action Fund will make investments in roughly two dozen companies that have already identified a promising drug with the goal of bringing two to four novel antibiotics to the market within a decade, according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, an industry trade group that is administering the fund.
Recipients will be chosen by an advisory panel made up of drug company executives, scientists and other experts in the field. The companies will also provide free expertise to biotech companies with promising drugs as they navigate the clinical and regulatory hurdles needed to bring an antimicrobial compound from laboratory to market.
“Antibiotics are the mortar that holds the entire health care system together,” said David A. Ricks, the chief executive of Eli Lilly, who helped spearhead the effort. “We make drugs for diabetes, cancer and immunological conditions, but you couldn’t treat any of them without effective antibiotics.”
Read the full story in The New York Times here.