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Glaxo to Get Up to $200 Million for U.S. Research

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May 22 (Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the U.K.’s largest drugmaker, will work with the U.S. government to develop antibiotics for resistant infections and bioterrorist threats in an agreement valued at as much as $200 million.

The company will collaborate with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which will provide $40 million for the initial 18-month agreement, London-based Glaxo said in a statement today. If the accord is renewed over five years, the department will provide as much as $200 million, the drugmaker said.

Even as drug-resistant bacteria pose a growing threat globally, the pipeline of new antibiotics is “virtually dry,” the World Health Organization has said. Public funding is necessary to sustain research in this area as many companies have withdrawn efforts given the scientific challenges and lower return on investment compared with other drugs, Glaxo said.

“There is an urgent need to address antibiotic resistance and new models are needed to deal with this challenging area of drug development,” David Payne, head of Glaxo’s Antibacterial Discovery Performance Unit, said in the statement. “Innovative public-private partnerships such as this are integral to solving this critical health-care issue.”

In addition to hospital infections, bioterrorism threats, including the plague, anthrax, rabbit fever, and potentially other unknown microbes are also targets for the new research, Payne said in an interview.

In October, Glaxo terminated clinical development of GSK2251052, an antibiotic for hospital and biothreat pathogens, after some patients showed resistance to the drug.

Glaxo and other drugmakers also won a contract from the U.S. in June to boost flu vaccine manufacturing ability during pandemics.

To contact the reporters on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net; Olivia Sterns in London at osterns1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kristen Hallam at khallam@bloomberg.net