Novartis buys drug firm Protez for up to $400 mln

ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis has bought U.S. based Protez Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth up to $400 million, giving it rights to an antibiotic which could be used to fight superbugs such as MRSA, the Swiss drugmaker said.

“(The) acquisition of Protez Pharmaceuticals provides rights to PZ-601 and further strengthens specialty medicines development portfolio in hospital infections,” Novartis said in a statement on Wednesday.

PZ-601 is a novel broad-spectrum antibiotic in Phase II development against potentially deadly drug-resistant infections, including MRSA and ESBL strains, Novartis said.

Novartis will initially pay $100 million for privately held Protez, with a potential for up to $300 million of additional payments depending on the success of PZ-601, the company said.

The emergence of hospital superbugs such as MRSA, which are resistant to existing medicines, has increased the need for alternative treatments and re-focused attention on antibiotics.

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