Infectious diseases are focus of new research

November 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

More than 130 new medicines are in development to treat infectious diseases, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

More than 130 new medicines are in development to treat infectious diseases, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

PhRMA found research projects at 78 companies that targeted both old and emerging infections.

"Infectious disease are still the leading cause of death around the world, and cost more than 100,000 American lives and more than $30 billion in treatment expenses in the United States each year," said Alan Holmer president of PhRMA.

Medicines in development include 42 vaccines, 72 antibiotics and 31 antivirals. The survey excluded medicines for AIDS, although some of the drugs in development treat the infections that often attack AIDS patients' immune systems.

Among the vaccines are a nasal spray for flu and a vaccine for cervical cancer and genital warts caused by human papillomavirus. Other vaccines in development include one for ear infections, which affect 85% of all children and cost more than $3 billion per year, and an "edible vaccine" for traveler's diarrhea. Edible vaccines enter the body through the stomach where mucosal tissues, which make up 75% of the body's immune system, are found.

Pasteur Merieux Connaught, Aviron and SmithKline Beecham have all submitted new drug applications for vaccines and are awaiting FDA approval.

Antibiotics in development include one for drug-resistant infections and one fast-acting drug for the treatment of tuberculosis. (The new antibiotic would treat tuberculosis in two weeks as opposed to the standard six-month treatment.) One of the antibiotics targets "staph" in low birth-weight infants; 12 anti-fungals fight diseases such as candidiasis and cryptococcosis, both of which weaken AIDS patients. Also, a drug is in development for severe pediatric meingococcemia, a deadly disease in which meningitis bacteria enters the bloodstream.

Atrix Laboratories, R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Magainin, Ascent, Rhône-Poulenc Rorer and Pfizer are all awaiting FDA approval for new drug applications for antibiotics.

New antivirals include the first oral treatment for hepatitis B and five immune enhancers that bolster the body's resistance to diseases such as herpes and hepatitis.

Janssen Pharmaceutica is awaiting approval of its submitted application for an antifungal, and Matrix Pharmaceuticals, BioChem Pharma, LIDAK, SmithKline Beecham, Isis and Schering-Plough are awaiting FDA approval for antivirals.

All the medicines reported by manufacturers are either in clinical trials or awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration. PR

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