Antibacterial innovation: parachutes needed

Bull of WHO

Anand Anandkumar’s description of developing and launching a novel antibiotic resonates with the pain of lived experience. “It’s like climbing a mountain and then going over a cliff,” says the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Bugworks Research Inc, a biotech company based in Bangalore, India.

The mountain that Bugworks is climbing is biotechnological (the company has a broad-spectrum antibiotic known as BWC0977 undergoing a Phase I trial in Australia), but the cliff the company will be going over – assuming the drug gets through the trial phases and receives regulatory approval – is, essentially, commercial.

Damiano de Felice, director of development at the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), a global nonprofit partnership focused on supporting early-stage antibacterial research and development (R&D), explains: “The more antibiotics are used, the more quickly microorganisms develop resistance to them. The public health imperative of antibiotic stewardship necessarily constrains demand.”