HHS to Collaborate With AstraZeneca for Biodefense Preparedness Plan
HHS will collaborate with biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on an antibiotic initiative as part of a biodefense preparedness plan for dealing with public health threats.
In its announcement, HHS cites Centers for Disease Control data linking antibiotic-resistant bacteria to 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year, causing a $35 billion strain on health care costs.
The public-private partnership will bring together for the second time the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority wing of the HHS with a drug company to develop investigational medications that could potentially be used to ward off bioterrorism and deadly bacterial infections or pandemics.
With $50 million in up-front BARDA funding and up to $170 million down the road, depending on the products, the agreement is a turn toward investing in a roster of drugs, rather than single products to speed up the process and create more options, HHS said.
HHS and AZ have eyed ATM-AVI (Aztreonam and Avibactam) to study its use against meliodosis, glanders and the plague.
BARDA Deputy Director Richard Hatchett said his agency has partnered with domestic and international pharmaceutical companies over the years to develop products to combat threats, diseases and most recently antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The interests of BARDA and AstraZeneca, a British company, were aligned and because AstraZeneca has a robust pipeline of anti-infectives.
The announcement falls in line with a large-scale White House push announced in March for new therapies and vaccines created through joint ventures between drugmakers and the NIH, HHS, academics and the Department of Defense.
This latest collaboration meets the White House call for two contracts within the year around the issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. President Barack Obama has requested Congress approve a $1.2 billion budget for fiscal 2016. — Victoria Pelham