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Novartis Signs Over its Experimental TB Drug

Update Date: Aug 20, 2014 09:48 AM EDT

Swiss-based drug manufacturing company, Novartis has announced that it will be handing over an experimental drug for tuberculosis (TB) to a non-profit company. According to the statement, the pharmaceutical giant signed an agreement with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development giving TB Alliance the opportunity to create life-saving anti-infectives.

Novartis' decision to move away from developing antibiotics falls in line with what many other big companies have been doing as well. Instead, under the new chairman, Joerg Reinhardt, the company's research is now being focused on creating drugs for cancer, respiratory illness, heart failure, and dermatology. This recent shift toward more lucrative areas made by Big Pharma has received some scrutiny.

"Novartis is not really focused on anti-infectives, so I think it makes sense," Kepler Cheuvreux analyst, Fabian Wenner commented reported by Reuters.

Under the agreement, Novartis will hand over a class of medicines called indolcarboxamides to TB Alliance, who will provide the funds for more research. Indolcarboxamides were created to target drug resistant and multi-resistant TB strains. One of the compounds known as NITD304 is capable of blocking a protein that helps TB bacterium stay alive. TB Alliance will have full responsibility in developing the drug and seeking approval once the drug completes trials.

"The goal of this agreement is to enable the program to be successful and bring needed medicines to patients," Novartis said in an emailed statement.

Mark Fishman, head of research at Novartis, added, "TB Alliance is well placed to take our discoveries and compounds through development for the benefit of patients with TB."

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 8.6 million people get infected with TB every year and roughly 1.3 million people die.

Novartis stated that even though the company's focus is moving toward other health conditions, it would still conduct research for other anti-infectives.

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