U.S. and UK form global partnership to speed new antibiotics

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. and British health officials have created a new alliance with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars to accelerate the development of new antibiotics and tackle the growing problem of drug resistance.

The new group known as Carb-X, short for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, brings together government, academia and industry to speed up work on new treatments and diagnostics.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday it would provide $30 million in the first year and up to $250 million during the five-year project.

Britain’s AMR Centre, a public-private initiative, will contribute $14 million initially and up to $100 million over five years, while the London-based Wellcome Trust will supply further unspecified funding.

The creation of Carb-X grew out of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2015 Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria initiative and follows a global review of antibiotic resistance by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill for the UK government.

O’Neill’s final report in May concluded that concerted international action was needed to increase the supply of new antibiotics and reduce unnecessary use of existing ones.

“Drug-resistant infections are already costing lives all over the world,” said Wellcome Director Jeremy Farrar. “A problem of this scale can only be tackled through coordinated international effort to curb our massive overuse of existing antibiotics, and to accelerate the development of new ones.”

Carb-X will be headquartered at the Boston University School of Law and led by Kevin Outterson, a leading health law researcher.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Tom Heneghan