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Cubist launches Zurich base

US antibiotic company expands into Europe
Cubist, Patrick Vink

Patrick Vink will lead Cubist's new office in Zurich

US-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals has expanded its operations with the launch of an international headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

The company, which specialises in the development of antibiotics for infectious diseases, said the new European office reinforces its commitment to the major public health threat of antimicrobial resistance.

“Dangerous superbugs know no geographic boundaries,” said Patrick Vink, who will head up the new office in his role as general manager of international business. “We are one of the few companies globally to take on the challenge of antibiotic resistance, and this expansion enables us to continue to address the growing medical need.”

bruno sauter cubistBruno Sauter (pictured right), Zurich's deputy minister of department of economy and labour, welcomed Cubist's decision to establish a base in the city as a “great honour” that would create jobs and grow the city's innovation economy. 

The launch of the new office comes at a time of a growing global awareness of the need for new antibiotic treatments to treat infectious diseases that are developing immunity to existing drugs.

This treatment gap is due to a variety of reasons, according to Cubist's CEO Michael Bonney who spoke at the event in Zurich. This includes human hubris, with Bonney noting that in 1969 the US Surgeon General declared that the “war” against bacteria as over, as well as the ability for bacteria to share mechanisms of resistance.

One of the biggest factors is the economics of developing antibiotics, according to Bonney, highlighting the poor return on investment offered by new treatments due in part to their short-term use.

“Many pharma and biotech companies have understood the biological basis of other human diseases with an ability to generate a return that meets their shareholders' needs is frankly somewhat higher than in antibiotics, which are often prescribed for two or three weeks at a time,” said Bonney.

Cubist, which was formed in 1992, has spent that past two decades bucking this trend and with a $400m investment planned for 2014 is committing more money to antibiotic R&D than any other company in the world.

Antimicrobial resistance is also building wider interest, with the World Health Organization's global report published in April this year set to be a key driver for awareness and change.

There are also several plans to improve the research environment for pharma companies, including the introduction of the Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) classification by the US FDA and a UK review into addressing how to improve the economic aspects of developing new treatments.

In addition, several pharma companies are collaborating on an antibiotic research programme via Europe's Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), while individual firms, such as Roche and Sanofi are also investing in the area.

Article by
Thomas Meek

22nd September 2014

From: Research, Sales, Healthcare

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