EC outlines new incentives to spur antibiotic R&D

Faced with a growing threat from a phalanx of superbugs and a long-standing industry disinterest in committing resources to low-margin antibiotics, European officials are hoping to jumpstart R&D work in the field with a set of tailored incentives for drug developers. The move drew quick support from Europe's pharma trade association, the EFPIA, and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) CEO Andrew Witty, whose company remains among a handful of big players that retain an interest in the field.

The European Commission says that it wants to adapt the existing €2 billion Innovative Medicines Initiative--a public/private venture--to spur developers. And officials laid out a strategy that includes swifter approvals along with a commitment to gain governments' support for adequate pricing.

"We need to take swift and determined action if we do not want to lose antimicrobial medicines as essential treatment against bacterial infections in both humans and animals," EU health commissioner John Dalli told reporters, according to Reuters.

"Unfortunately, the current commercial model doesn't stimulate the innovation needed in this area," GSK chief Andrew Witty told Reuters' Ben Hirschler. "We need a fundamentally different approach and public-private collaboration, with the sharing of information and funding, provides us with a significant opportunity to reduce the hurdles in our way."

"This program of collaborative research needs to facilitate the involvement of large and small pharmaceutical companies and the antimicrobial research community at large," said Richard Bergström, director-general of the EFPIA. This is very new ground for the industry and over the course of the next few months we will be finalizing the details, but the shape we hope to create for the initiative is clear."

- read the press release from the EFPIA
- here's the Reuters article