(Via Reuters)

Swiss drugmaker Roche will pay up to 500 million Swiss francs ($548 million) for an experimental antibiotic, marking a rare foray by a major pharmaceutical firm into the battle against so-called “superbug” infections found in hospitals.

The World Health Organisation has warned of the growing public health threat from drug-resistant superbugs. There are 25,000 deaths each year in the European Union alone due to antimicrobial resistance, Roche said on Monday.

However, the problem is not yet widespread enough to attract major investment by most top pharmaceutical companies, with many of them in fact cutting back research into antibiotics.

Pfizer, once the leader in the field, closed its antibiotic R&D centre in Connecticut in 2011, while Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly have also cut back, leaving few big firms in the game.

Roche said it had signed an exclusive global licensing deal to develop and commercialize privately held Polyphor’s investigational antibiotic POL7080 against certain superbug infections found in hospitals.

Under the deal, Roche will make an upfront payment of 35 million Swiss francs and milestone payments of up to 465 million.

In addition, Polyphor will be entitled to tiered, double-digit percentage royalties on any product sales and will retain the option to co-promote an inhaled formulation of POL7080 in Europe, Roche said.


Read the full story here: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/04/us-roche-polyphor-idUKBRE9A307L20131104