ZURICH, Jan 13- Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche said Tuesday it would pay up to $750 million for rights to a new molecule which boosts the capacity of antibiotics to fight increasingly resistant superbugs.
The molecule named 0P0595 is in the first phase of development and helps restore the efficiency of antibiotics, including penicillin based ones, to combat super resistant bacteria.
Roche said the deal with Japan’s Meiji Seika Pharma and Canada’s Fedora would allow it to develop and market their beta-lactamase inhibitor OP0595 worldwide, except in Japan where Meiji will retain the rights.
Roche is making an initial payment to the two companies, a statement said without divulging the sum. But it added that the final sum could reach $750 million (636 million euros).
The beta lactam class of antibiotics which includes penicillins, cephalosporins, monobactams and carbapenems, accounts for an estimated 65 percent of global antibiotic sales.
But the efficacy of these life-saving antibiotics is threatened by rising bacterial resistance caused by beta-lactamase enzymes which render the antibiotics increasingly ineffective.
The increasing prevalence of superbugs resistant to the most powerful drugs has worried experts and fuelled a search for new treatments.
“There is an urgent need for new antibiotics able to combat the increasing resistance to antibiotics that is being seen worldwide,” said Janet Hammond from Roche’s research unit.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than two million patients are affected by drug resistant infections each year, with direct healthcare costs as high as $20 billion.
“The properties of OP0595 and its ability to be combined with new or existing beta lactam antibiotics promise a significant advance in the battle against increasing multi drug resistant bacteria,” said Christopher G. Micetich, founder and CEO of Fedora Pharmaceuticals.