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Blog #19 - Noneffective Antibiotics (Part III): Have the Pharma Giants Lost The Race?

By NBailly 15:39, July 15 2014 (CDT)

Aachen David-Goliath-S1-300x261.jpg
David and Goliath
Small Companies have taken leading position in antibiotics research. Picture by LegalIT Lawyers.

It is not the big pharma companies that will develop the desperately needed new generation of antibiotics that can even cope with multi-resistant bacteria such as MRSA. Instead, some smaller companies who never gave up researching this field are now future market leaders. As the German business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported this June, it is companies like the British-Swedish Astra Zeneca or Hoffmann-La Roche spin off Basilea that are now in a leading position.

Astra Zeneca, for example, brought the very effective antibiotic Ceftarolin to the European market. Ceftarolin can also cope with MRSA. But this is not the company’s only success: Another highly interesting remedy, Avibactam, was developed. This drug tricks multi-resistant bacteria into lowering their defense against antibiotics. In a combined treatment with the broad-spectrum antibiotic cephalosporin, it is running through the last two phases of authorizing trials on humans. Astra Zeneca hopes this treatment will be admitted to urinary tract infections and pneumonia by 2016. Basilea’s fifth generation cephalosporin, Ceftobiprol, has also been admitted to help people with pneumonia. It can kill a multitude of killer germs at the same time, and is expected to yield more than one billion dollars on the market.

The latter example shows that a lot of money can be made with antibiotics nowadays when the old ones keep of failing against multi-resistant strains. Although big pharma companies like Bayer, Roche or Sanofi have realized that by now, it might be too late to catch up to the leading position. While Astra Zeneca increased its department in 2009 through buying the French Novexel, Sanofi and co. gave up on many promising ideas that are now fruitfully developed by their spun offs.