Pharma giants join forces on $285M antibiotics collaboration

A group of Europe's top pharma companies is joining hands with a public innovation initiative and leading scientists in a $285 million effort aimed at developing a new generation of badly needed antibiotics. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Sanofi ($SNY), AstraZeneca ($AZN), J&J ($JNJ) as well as Basilea will join an R&D consortium including the continent's Innovative Medicines Initiative to fund the effort, setting up an information hub that will share data among investigators laboring on new antibiotics.

"The central theme of this research project is the sharing of information," GSK antibiotic chief David Payne tells Dow Jones. "For example, some of the information that we used to keep locked away from everybody else is the sort of information that we're now going to be sharing with partners in this consortium, such as experiences that we've had, various drug discovery strategies that we've had. And the failures are probably one of the most important parts of how we can improve what we do as an industry and improve our overall efficiency on anti-bacterial R&D."

Over the years, some, though not all, drug developers shunned the antibiotics field, fretting that thin margins on existing products made them commercially unattractive. But the dearth of new products in the pipeline coincided with a sharp rise in the risk of lethal infections. In the U.S., developers have been calling for new incentives to help spur R&D in the field. 

This new European R&D initiative underscores a greater willingness of investigators to pool resources on big projects that face scientific or regulatory risks, adding to the likelihood that more of these open research projects can be initiated in neurosciences and other challenging fields.

"This announcement signals a new model of collaboration and a willingness to change and adapt to seek different solutions," noted GSK's Patrick Vallance, the president of pharma R&D. 

- here's the press release
- read the story from Dow Jones