Drugmakers, non-profits to partner on TB drug development

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announced an initiative Thursday afternoon intended to accelerate the development of combination treatments for tuberculosis and replace an almost 50-year-old drug regimen. The collaboration will include public and private partners.

Created by the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the Critical Path Institute, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Critical Path to TB Drug Regimens initiative aims to reduce the time it takes to introduce new combination TB treatments from as much as a quarter century to as few as six years. TB remains one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases, killing approximately 1.8 million people annually.

Companies involved in the initiative include Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Otsuka, Novartis, Sequella and Anacor Pharmaceuticals. The World Health Organization also has expressed its support.

"No single company or institution can do it alone," says Paul Stoffels, global head, pharmaceuticals R&D, Johnson & Johnson, in a statement. "Industry has to continue to focus on innovation and accelerate the discovery and development of new compounds with new mechanisms of action, and at the same time work in collaboration with regulators, non-profit organizations, and other partners to accelerate testing of new combination regimens as early as possible in development."

Word of the collaboration came a day after a day after cancer researchers and drugmakers launched a similar initiative.

- check out the press release
- read Reuters' coverage