GSK has a legacy in the development of antibiotics dating back to the 1950s and is one of the few pharmaceutical companies with an active antibiotic research and development (R&D) programme.
The last 15 to 20 years has seen antibiotic research diminish significantly despite the continued emergence of bacteria resistant to existing treatments. The discovery of new antibiotics is an inherently difficult area of pharmaceutical R&D and can take many years and involve significant investment. In addition, once licensed new antibiotics are generally used only when patients have failed to respond to existing treatments. This significantly limits the commercial return that is needed to encourage continued investment in this area and fund future R&D.
To help address these challenges the European Commission has committed to a number of important measures. These include introducing accelerated approval processes for new antibiotics, improving market and pricing conditions for new antibiotics and also providing funding through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), to drive collaboration and restimulate antibiotic research.
IMI is Europe's largest public-private initiative which aims to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. The industry will now work with the European Commission to develop specific areas of focus for this IMI funding. These are likely to include:
- Supporting clinical trials to evaluate new antibiotics and enhance drug development
- Collaborating on preclinical research for the discovery of novel mechanisms to target bacteria
- Sharing of knowledge and expertise across the antimicrobial research community
Commenting on the European Commission's strategy, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty said: "Today's announcement is very welcome news. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem and we face the continued threat of one day coming up against an infection to which we don't have an effective antibiotic.
"Unfortunately, the current commercial model doesn't stimulate the innovation needed in this area. 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.
"It is now important for industry and public partners to turn today's proposal into real actions that can help lead to the development of real medicines."
GlaxoSmithKline - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies - is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.