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Resistance is Futile – SuperDrugs for SuperBugs

October 28, 2011
“MRSA’s kill 100,000 people a year, more than AIDS,” said Mark Leuchetenberger, President and CEO, Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, Inc. With new superbugs on the rise and new superdrugs continuing to decline, the antibacterial drug discovery market is anyone’s for the taking.

Attendees of the 10th Annual BIO Investor Forum participating in the Infectious Disease Therapeutic Workshop heard from an engaging panel that seemed to agree the economics of this category are driven by two things: society expects antibiotics to be cheap and the idea of stewardship, keep the new drug in reserve until it’s needed.

To further compound the issue, the need for new antibodies is driven by bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to current drugs.

Companies have begun to address the lack of financing by tapping in to the available government contracts for funding. This unexpected yet welcome source of therapeutic funding has given life to the superdrugs environment. As David Perry, CEO, Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. reminded the audience, “Need doesn’t translate in to a money-making opportunity.”

As the regulatory hurdles get larger and the investment remains limited, Jeffrey Stein, PhD, President and CEO with Trius Therapeutics, Inc. suggested that it behooves companies to get an SPA as it imposes a discipline and coordination with the FDA.

In order to see real change, pressure must be put on Congress and Congress feels pressure by and large from their constituents. The panel agreed that there is no large, dedicated constituency on behalf of superdrug’s development. Often times, until patients have a life threatening disease, there is no interest. The exception to this rule has been the introduction of the IraqiBacter. This unique bacterial strain found in Iraq vets has given a voice to assist with the lobbying efforts.

In this ever-changing field, Perry reminded us that evolution will always win and we win by continuing to evolve in all areas.

The panel was moderated by Susan Schaeffer, Senior Editor, BioCentury Publications.