Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Ex-FDA chief Gottlieb sees investment opportunity in 'unloved' antibiotics

Stock Markets Oct 29, 2019 05:37PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items

By Rebecca Spalding

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As a private investor, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is focused on an area where few have found success in recent years: developing new antibiotics.

Since leaving the FDA in April, Gottlieb has revealed little about what types of investments he would make in his new role at New Enterprise Associates, one of the country's largest venture capital firms where he worked prior to his time in government.

But in an interview, Gottlieb said he intends to use his expertise to back therapeutic areas that other healthcare investors have overlooked due to concerns over how the treatments are paid for.

Near the top of his list are companies researching new kinds of antibiotics, an issue he advocated for while at the FDA.

"I'm very interested in finding opportunities in the anti-infective space, particularly around multi-drug resistant organisms," Gottlieb said in an interview. "Anti-infectives have been unloved for a very long time. There's a huge clinical need."

In many ways, it's a contrarian bet. Global health officials have repeatedly warned about the rise of bacteria and other microbes that are resistant to most available drugs, raising the specter of untreatable infectious diseases that could spread rapidly.

But few large drugmakers are researching new medicines that can combat these so-called "superbugs" because the economics often work against them. Drugmakers earn more revenue the more drugs they sell. However, antibiotics are more effective the less they are used.

Last year, pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG (S:NOVN) said it would abandon its antibiotic research, following similar moves made by peers AstraZeneca Plc (L:AZN) and Sanofi SA (PA:SASY).

Pfizer Inc (N:PFE), whose board Gottlieb joined in June after leaving government, is one of the few remaining large players still in the space along with GlaxoSmithKline Plc (L:GSK), which this week begun late-stage testing of an experimental antibiotic in patients with urinary tract infections and gonorrhea.

Smaller players, meanwhile, have struggled to find financing. Achaogen Inc said earlier this year that it would file for bankruptcy despite having brought a novel antibiotic through FDA approval. Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, Inc (O:TTPH) plummeted earlier this month after it gave a disappointing sales forecast for its antibiotic treatment.

Gottlieb said the sector's low valuations create an opportunity to roll up therapies into a larger company focused on making antibiotics.

"After the Achaogen episode, a lot of valuations have been driven down quite dramatically. I think there's an opportunity to try to find some existing assets and maybe build a company around those assets," he said.

"That's what I think I'd be interested in doing," Gottlieb said. "There are other investors that are interested in this as well. I think the capital is out there to do that."

While at the FDA, Gottlieb advocated finding new ways to pay for antibiotics, such as a licensing model that would charge hospitals upfront for access to new kinds of anti-infective drugs rather than paying for them on a per unit basis.

In the past, Gottlieb was criticized over potential conflicts of interest between his government and private sector work, including an investment in Kure Corp, a privately-held vaping company. Gottlieb promised to divest that interest prior to joining the FDA, where he assumed oversight of the burgeoning e-cigarette market.

Ex-FDA chief Gottlieb sees investment opportunity in 'unloved' antibiotics

Related Articles

Former Deutsche Bank co-CEO Anshu Jain dies
Former Deutsche Bank co-CEO Anshu Jain dies By Reuters - Aug 13, 2022 10

(Reuters) -Anshu Jain, a top finance executive best known for helping German lender Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) take on the largest Wall Street firms, died overnight on Saturday...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email