The last time I talked to Zavante CEO Ted Schroeder in the spring of 2017, he was steering his antibiotic Zolyd (fosfomycin for injection, or ZTI-01), planning to squeak past the goal lines at the FDA without a penny to spare of his $45 million in investor backing.
The antibiotic is an old one, outside the US, and he had grabbed country rights in expectations that it would work as expected.
Now, about 15 quiet months later, we heard Tuesday afternoon that Nabriva $NBRV is stepping in to buy the antibiotic and hustle it to regulators — indicating that Schroeder’s old timeline and budget may have gone a little south somehow.
Nabriva is handing over 8.2 million shares to complete the acquisition, with a little under $100 million more in milestones.
The antibiotic is now called Contepo, and Schroeder is still in charge of getting it to the FDA. In fact, he’s taking the CEO’s job in the deal, taking the place of Colin Broom.
Nabriva had a $3.30 share price at the close, with a $134 million micro cap valuation.
Developing antibiotics may be urgently needed, but they are not going after blockbuster markets. Most antibiotics in use are cheap generics, making this one risky field without a major upside. That’s one reason why drug resistance continues to get worse. Without better market incentives, we’ll continue to see major players bow out, as we saw recently when Novartis shut down its antibiotics research work and laid off 140 people.
Broom, now working as a consultant to Schroeder, said:
We expect that Nabriva’s expert commercial, medical affairs and supply chain infrastructure will be able to fully support CONTEPO, a novel, potential first-in-class IV treatment in the United States. We believe CONTEPO will be beneficial in the early, appropriate treatment of complicated urinary tract infections caused or suspected to be caused by multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria. Nabriva expects to file New Drug Applications (NDAs) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for both lefamulin and CONTEPO in the fourth quarter of 2018.
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