AstraZeneca's Zavicefta has been approved for use in the European Union to treat patients with serious Gram-negative bacterial infections requiring hospitalisation.

Zavicefta is a fixed combination of avibactam, a new beta-lactamase inhibitor, and ceftazidime, an antibiotic belonging to the class of third generation cephalosporins already approved for use in the EU.

Resistance to cephalosporins and other antibiotics is on the rise, in particular in Gram-negative bacteria; by inhibiting the action of beta-lactamases, which play a key role in the development of bacterial resistance to such antibiotics, avibactam restores the activity of ceftazidime.

"Zavicefta is an important addition to the arsenal of antibiotics in the global fight against antimicrobial resistance. Effective treatment options are rapidly running out for serious Gram-negative infections. Zavicefta helps bridge that gap and allows a broad population of patients across Europe to benefit from this new medicine."

The approval includes intravenous use of Zavicefta for the treatment of adult patients suffering from complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI); Complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI), including pyelonephritis; hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP), including ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP); and, the treatment of aerobic Gram-negative infections in adult patients who have limited treatment options.

Zavicefta is being jointly developed by AstraZeneca and Allergan; AstraZeneca holds the global commercialisation rights, with the exception of North America, where the rights are held by its partner.

Global threat
Experts have predicted that failure to tackle the rise of the superbug could propel the current annual death toll related to antimicrobial resistance from 700,000 to 10 million by 2050, at a global cost of $100 trillion between now and then.

Earlier this year, Lord Jim O'Neill unveiled his final plan of attack to help combat AMR, including the recommendation that pharma firms are handed a $1-billion bonus for each new antibiotic they discover.