MSD launches new antibiotic in the UK

Merck (MSD) has launched the new intravenous antibiotic Zerbaxa (ceftolozane/tazobactam) in the UK, for the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI), acute pyelonephritis and complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI) in hospital settings.

Ceftolozane/tazobactam offers an alternative to the standard treatment of carbapenems for ESBL-producing organisms, which have been linked to the emergence of carbapenem-resistant bacteria contributing to global antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Ceftolozane/tazobactam is a combination product consisting of the cephalosporin antibacterial drug ceftolozane sulfate and the beta-lactamase inhibitor tazobactam sodium. It is administered every eight hours by an intravenous infusion lasting one hour, with treatment usually lasting 4-14 days.

Professor David Livermore, Professor in Medical Microbiology at University of East Anglia, says: “Ceftolozane/tazobactam is very important because it’s a new antibiotic that treats Gram-negative infections, where a lot of resistance problems are now accumulating. Its activity against pseudomonas is especially important.

“It overcomes both the major mechanisms – efflux and inactivation – that often compromise other cephalosporins against this difficult species.  As always, there’s more to be done, more clinical trials are needed in further settings – particularly those where you find most of the difficult Pseudomonas strains.”

Merck acquired Zerbaxa with the $9.5 billion buyout of Cubist in December 2014. At the time, the antibiotic had just been approved by the US FDA and was tipped by analysts to achieve $560 million in sales in 2018.


Joel Levy


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