Roche to re-enter antibiotics market…again

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Antibiotic resistance

Roche to re-enter antibiotics market…again
Roche to re-enter antibiotics market…again
Roche could restart its antibiotic development activities if a superbug busting drug candidate being developed by new partner Polyphor fulfils its early clinical promise.

The Swiss drug giant paid Polyphor CHF35m ($38m) for exclusive worldwide rights to the macrocycle antibiotic, Pol7080, which is being developed as a treatment for hospital-acquired Pseudomonas aeruginosa​ infection.

Roche spokesman Luke Willats told that: “POL7080 is in Phase II clinical trials. A Phase I clinical trial in healthy volunteers in Europe has successfully demonstrated the clinical safety and tolerability of POL7080. All primary study objectives were achieved in this trial."

He added that: “Phase II studies previously initiated will be completed by Polyphor. Roche will assume full responsibility for remaining development and commercialisation​.”

So...subsidiaries don't count?

Roche stopped developing antibiotics when it abandoned anti-infectives research in 1999 (page 68) as it moved to reshape its R&D activities.

However, despite what has been widely reported, the new license does not mark Roche’s return to the antibiotics development field. In February, the firm’s subsidiary Genentech entered into an R&D collaboration with RQx in a project focused on an antibiotic to combat multi-drug resistant gram negative bugs.

Nevertheless, a second deal in the field of antibiotics could indicate Roche has changed its view of the revenue potential offered by anti-infectives, so asked Willats what prompted the agreement.

He said that: “This license agreement complements the Roche pRED portfolio by adding antibiotics to the current focus areas in virology: Hepatitis B and influenza.

It reinforces pRED’s strong commitment to infectious diseases, particularly for areas of high unmet medical need. As one of the leading causes of antibiotic-resistant infections, Pseudomonas is a good starting point for Roche pRED​.” 

Polyphor could earn as much as CHF465m from the deal, based on certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones, is entitled to receive tiered double-digit royalties on product sales.

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