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GlaxoSmithKline welcomes innovative knowledge-sharing collaboration to break deadlock in antibiotic discovery and development

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to promote collaborative research efforts to develop new antibiotics against the growing threat from resistant bacteria.

Issued: London UK

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to promote collaborative research efforts to develop new antibiotics against the growing threat from resistant bacteria.  

Within its Action plan against the rising threats from Antimicrobial Resistance published today, the Commission recognises the challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry in discovering and developing new antibiotics and commits to help fund a collaborative research and development programme involving industry and public partners.

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.”  

Notes to editors

GSK has a legacy in the development of new antibiotics that goes back to 1959.  Our pipeline today includes two novel antibiotics currently in Phase II clinical development. GSK is committed to continuing to research and develop new antibiotics.

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.  For further information please visit www.gsk.com.

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GlaxoSmithKline cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
Under the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect GSK's operations are described under 'Risk Factors' in the 'Business Review' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2010.