Ex-FDA chief Gottlieb sees investment opportunity in ‘unloved’ antibiotics

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As a private investor, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is focused on an area where few have found success in recent years: developing new antibiotics.

FILE PHOTO: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb speaks during an interview with Reuters in New York City, U.S., November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo


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NEW YORK: As a private investor, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is focused on an area where few have found success in recent years: developing new antibiotics.

Since leaving the FDA in April, Gottlieb has revealed little about what types of investments he would make in his new role at New Enterprise Associates, one of the country's largest venture capital firms where he worked prior to his time in government.

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But in an interview, Gottlieb said he intends to use his expertise to back therapeutic areas that other healthcare investors have overlooked due to concerns over how the treatments are paid for.

Near the top of his list are companies researching new kinds of antibiotics, an issue he advocated for while at the FDA.

"I'm very interested in finding opportunities in the anti-infective space, particularly around multi-drug resistant organisms," Gottlieb said in an interview. "Anti-infectives have been unloved for a very long time. There's a huge clinical need."

In many ways, it's a contrarian bet. Global health officials have repeatedly warned about the rise of bacteria and other microbes that are resistant to most available drugs, raising the specter of untreatable infectious diseases that could spread rapidly.

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But few large drugmakers are researching new medicines that can combat these so-called "superbugs" because the economics often work against them. Drugmakers earn more revenue the more drugs they sell. However, antibiotics are more effective the less they are used.

Last year, pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG said it would abandon its antibiotic research, following similar moves made by peers AstraZeneca Plc and Sanofi SA .

Pfizer Inc , whose board Gottlieb joined in June after leaving government, is one of the few remaining large players still in the space along with GlaxoSmithKline Plc , which this week begun late-stage testing of an experimental antibiotic in patients with urinary tract infections and gonorrhea.

Smaller players, meanwhile, have struggled to find financing. Achaogen Inc said earlier this year that it would file for bankruptcy despite having brought a novel antibiotic through FDA approval. Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, Inc plummeted earlier this month after it gave a disappointing Read More – Source