AstraZeneca and Forest Laboratories have hooked up to develop and market a new antibiotic – ceftaroline – in all markets outside of the USA, Canada and Japan. The deal for Forest’s late-stage cephalosporin “complements our existing antibiotic Merrem and our significant investment in antibiotic research, as well as agents in development such as CytoFab,” says AZ CEO David Brennan.

Ceftaroline is on track to be filed for approval in the USA this year and in Europe in 2010. Having held out to this late stage means AZ will pay Forest an undisclosed signing fee, sales-related royalties and milestone payments, with the Anglo-Sweish giant also taking over the reins for the development, approval and commercialisation of ceftaroline in the territories it is responsible for.

Ceftaroline is in development for use in treating complicated skin and skin structure infections as well as community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, and has been shown to be effective against a broad range of pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae in four Phase III trials versus currently marketed comparators.

From Forest’s perspective, CEO Howard Solomon, believes this latest agreement – plus its more recent product launches – will “produce economic benefit during periods when we face patent expirations”.

Forest acquired the rights to ceftaroline when it bought US biopharmaceutical company Cerexa Inc in 2007. Japanese rights are owned by Takeda Pharmaceuticals