Thursday, May 23, 2013

BARDA strikes again!

In a startling new development, the Department of Health and Human Services just announced the establishment of a collaborative agreement with Glaxo Smith Kline for the development of a portfolio of products targeting both agents of bioterror and antibiotic resistance.  The first tranche of monies based on this agreement is $40 million with the possibility of up to $200 million in funding if the contract is renewed. The form of the collaboration is flexible allowing individual products to move in and out of the portfolio during the term of the agreement. It looks like there will be a joint management committee just like what commonly occurs with intra-pharma collaborations.  If everyone knows what they are doing, this seems like an outstanding approach to establishing a model for a public private venture for antibiotic research.  Kudos to BARDA and GSK for making this happen.

Now, during the sequester, we just have to disseminate this model to other companies.  GSK isn’t the only large or small company with promising antibiotic research programs that could be applied to both bioterror and to antibiotic resistant infections. BARDA – if you’re having trouble identifying these companies – let me know – I’ll help.

Another interesting aspect of the press release from HHS noted what they said was a similar endeavor in Europe through Innovative Medicines Initiative.  But this is totally different in that it establishes monies contributed by EFPIA (European PhRMA) members and by the EU Commission (EU taxpayers) to be distributed to grant applicants.  But everyone is (as far as I know) forced to partner with an EFPIA member somehow. BARDA seems to not be constrained in this way at all.  The BARDA approach seems far superior to me.  The question is – how much budget do they have and is there anyone out there willing to enter in to such an agreement with them?  It seems like a great deal to me.

As you can see – I am very excited by this announcement and I only hope this offers a truly new way forward for PhRMA, large and small, to do business with government.  I also hope that this will act as another incentive to bring companies back into the field of antibiotic R&D.  We desperately need them.

So, once again, BARDA – kudos and thanks!

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