September 16, 2015 / 8:31 PM / 4 years ago

Department of Health and Human Services, AstraZeneca to develop antibiotics

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Wednesday it signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to develop antibiotics.

The federal agency said it will share costs with AstraZeneca to develop a portfolio of drugs to treat illnesses caused by bioterrorism agents and antibiotic-resistant infections.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the HHS will initially provide $50 million, and could pay up to $170 million for development of additional products as part of the deal, which is for five years.

The first drug candidate to be explored is a combination of two antibiotics, Aztreonam and Avibactam, known together as ATM-AVI, the HHS said.

The combination ATM-AVI is being tested in Europe in a mid-stage study, the agency said.

Reporting by Vidya L Nathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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