Novartis shuts down Protez, shelves $400M antibiotic program

When Novartis trumpeted its $400 million deal to buy Malvern, PA-based Protez Pharmaceuticals back in 2008, the pharma giant spotlighted the small biotech's promising antibiotic PZ-601. Today, however, PZ-601 has been quietly relegated to the shelf, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in potential milestones that could have gone to Protez's investors.

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported over the weekend that Novartis has shuttered the Protez office, which had 16 workers, and moved on to other things. So have three former principals of Protez, who have gone on to launch VenatoRx, a developer of new antibacterials.

PZ-601 was heralded as a novel broad-spectrum antibiotic that could be used to fight MRSA, a growing threat in hospitals around the world--along with other superbugs now making the rounds. The Protez team didn't come away empty handed. Novartis paid $100 million upfront to buy the company.

- here's the story from the Philadelphia Business Journal