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Dec. 27, 2019

CORRECTION: Antibiotic Company Starts Bankruptcy Proceedings; Highlights Urgent Need for Investment in Infection Fighting Drugs

Earlier today, a release was issued stating that antibiotic maker Melinta is closing. This information was incorrect. Melinta has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but intends to remain open and is in the process of restructuring.

The bankruptcy filing announced today by antibiotic maker Melinta once again highlights the daunting challenges facing research and development of new infection-fighting drugs. Melinta is the second antibiotic company this year forced into bankruptcy because it could not make a sufficient return on its investment in medicines that are urgently needed to protect individual and public health and national security. While Melinta intends to continue normal business operations through the Chapter 11 process, Melinta’s bankruptcy highlights the challenges that antibiotic producers are currently facing. Any closure or stop in production of their company would put into jeopardy the continued availability of its four antibiotics — lifesaving tools that patients cannot afford to lose given our already limited antibiotic arsenal.

Like other antibiotic companies that have faced challenges or even closed in recent years, Melinta faces the challenge that the development of antibiotics, used infrequently and for short durations and held in reserve to protect their effectiveness, does not return quick profits to investors. If Melinta does not successfully complete the Chapter 11 process, it would further decrease the likelihood that investors would take the risk of supporting antibiotic research and development. This bankruptcy underscores the need for swift federal government support and incentives to ensure the availability of effective antibiotics.

Melinta’s bankruptcy announcement is even more concerning in the wake of a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that more than 2.8 million illnesses and 35,000 deaths are caused by infections that existing medicines no longer effectively treat. The Infectious Diseases Society of America, the first medical society to draw attention to the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections, believes the actual impacts of antibiotic resistant infections are even higher than CDC’s conservative estimates.

The announcement of yet another antibiotics company going through challenges highlights a continuing crisis to which policymakers should respond, including with swift passage of the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms -- DISARM – Act, legislation that reforms the way Medicare reimburses for new antibiotics to help to stabilize the antibiotics market, improve patient access to new antibiotics, support the development of new infection-fighting drugs, and preserve the effectiveness of existing medicines. Reimbursement reform is an essential step, but the populations needing new antibiotics should remain relatively small, so novel approaches will be needed to provide a more predictable return on investment for the most urgently needed new antibiotics. It is equally critical that the federal government strengthen existing investments in antibiotic research and development as well as infection prevention, stewardship and surveillance to ensure a comprehensive response to antibiotic resistance.


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