Novartis is purchasing U.S.-based antibiotics developer Protez Pharmaceuticals for a base price of $100 million, but has promised up to $300 million in additional payments if Protez's new broad-spectrum antibiotic is a success. The antibiotic, PZ-601, is in Phase II development and aims to treat multi-drug resistant bugs such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which cause over 100,000 deaths in the U.S. and Europe annually.
The company has also been placing greater strategic emphasis on vaccine development, announcing today that it will start an anti-ulcer vaccine trial before year-end. The vaccine, which is in Phase I trials, will attempt to prevent recipients from acquiring Helicobacter pylori, a bug responsible for stomach ulcers. Novartis also has a candidate vaccine for Group B Streptococcus in Phase I trials and another for Group A Streptococcus slated to enter Phase I trials in 2010, along with a pneumococcal vaccine. Vaccines against meningococcal infections are in late stage development as well.