Wockhardt builds $40M plant in Dubai to produce ‘superbug’ fighters

Wockhardt will produce new generation antibiotics at a plant it has built in Dubai. (Wockhardt)

India’s Wockhardt is working to develop antimicrobial drugs to fight the emerging threat of superbugs, and the company has built a $40 million manufacturing facility in Dubai to produce them.

The company announced Monday it has inaugurated a 10,000-square-meter (107,639-square-foot) facility in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai. The manufacturing and R&D project includes production of aseptic dry powder and filling, as well as warehousing, product testing and product stability.

It is being built to produce the novel antibiotics that Wockhardt is developing for sale globally. The company said it has five novel drugs that the FDA has granted Qualified Infectious Disease Program (QIDP) status.

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“Wockhardt has dedicated significant resources for the discovery and development of these novel antibiotics, which are in advanced stages of development and are a culmination of 20 years of dedicated and focused research,” Murtaza Khorakiwala, Wockhardt managing director, said in a statement.

RELATED: It's a good news, bad news FDA approval for Achaogen's powerful antibiotic Zemdri

Health authorities around the world have been sounding an alarm for years that new antibiotics are needed to fight drug-resistant bugs that they no longer are able to routinely treat, and a number of companies have taken up the challenge.

Pfizer is among those. In 2016 it paid AstraZeneca $1.5 billion for its antibiotics portfolio and quickly followed up with the rollout of Zavicefta, an antibiotic that targets multidrug-resistant bacteria. It also has developed a database and mobile app that allows providers, and even consumers, to track pathogens and antibiotic treatments that work in their areas.

Last month, the FDA approved high-powered antibiotic Zemdri from Achaogen to treat drug-resistant urinary tract infections. It turned down the Bay Area biotech’s bid to use the new drug against bloodstream infections. The drug is "designed to retain its potent activity" when attacking difficult-to-treat infections resistant to multiple antibiotics, CEO Blake Wise said when the drug was approved.