- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The federal government has signed a $200 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline to develop powerful antibiotics that can combat bioterrorism and overcome resistance issues that have made some prescriptions worthless in recent years.

The deal lets taxpayer dollars be disbursed to the company’s general antibiotics portfolio, rather than limiting funding to a single drug or drug candidate, Reuters reported. In that respect, the deal is unique, the first of its kind, Reuters said.

It comes at a time when medical experts the world over are warning about health risks to the public because of the growing ability of bacteria to resist antibiotics. England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, calls it a “ticking time bomb,” Reuters reported. And Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it was urgent that medicine be discovered to fight the “nightmare bacteria.”

Still, even with all the dire warnings, drug companies have been hesitant to invest in drugs that can battle superbugs because of the potential for low returns on their research and development revenues.

This public-private deal promises GSK $40 million for the first 18 months and an option to continue the funding for the next five years, up to $200 million, Reuters said.