At the All Party Parliamentary Group Meeting on antibiotics held in the Palace of Westminster on 13 November 2018 (unfortunately not attended by many MPs or members of the House of Lords) Kevin Outterson, director of CARB-X presented on the parlous state of small US biotech companies working in the antibiotic development space. He showed that for six US companies after they had obtained US FDA approval for new antibiotics their share price had dived. He estimated that these had between them had close to $2.5 billion of investment injected into them. At that time in early November 2018, the total combined value of these companies was $800 million meaning that investors had lost $1.7 billion. He also predicted that by Q1 2019 at least one company would file for bankruptcy. Kevin’s crystal ball gazing was indeed accurate – Achaogen, a small US biotech that had got a new antibiotic registered by the FDA has filed for Chapter 11 protection. In other words they have gone bankrupt. Kevin also predicted that at these companies current burn rate, all will have run out of cash within the next 12-18 months. To see Kevin’s presentation to the APPG click HERE. (courtesy of Kevin Outterson, CARB-X).
Our charity has proposed an alternative model to the traditional ROI pharma model in which the Third Sector with its non-profit ethos takes an active One World Health approach to the resistance problem. Charities are well-placed to take up the slack left behind by pharma pulling out of antibiotic drug development. NGOs have played a significant role in finding new drugs for cancer, malaria, TB and HIV / AIDS treatments. There is no reason why they could not play a similar role in antibiotic drug development. Such developments are heavily dependent on basic science discoveries in universities, which are themselves charities and where funding is often provided by the Third Sector.
We have proposed that a virtual pharma company be created using academic expertise in medicinal chemistry, ADME / PK, pharmacology and toxicology, preclinical models, clinical trials etc. Such a model would require not only adequate funding but the ability to be highly collaborative. Our charity is ready to help make this happen through our Five Point Action Plan. We look to other Third Sector organisations to step up.