UK – Development of new antibiotics encouraged with new pharmaceutical payment system

The new trial will be led by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS England and NHS Improvement.

It will test a ‘subscription’ style model that pays pharmaceutical companies upfront for access to drugs based on their usefulness to the NHS.

This will make it more attractive for companies to invest the estimated £1 billion it costs to develop a new drug, as they can be reassured they will still be paid for the drug even though it may be stored for reserves.

Currently, drugs companies are paid by volume of antibiotics sold, while the NHS is trying to reduce their use to prevent antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Low returns on investment in development mean industry is reluctant to invest in the research and clinical trials necessary to bring new antibiotics to market.

NICE and NHS England and NHS Improvement are calling for companies to identify products to be considered for the initial phase of the test.

The work will be evaluated from the start and findings will be shared with the rest of the world so that other healthcare systems can test similar models.

Antibiotics have started to fail, with resistant bacteria already causing more than 700,000 deaths globally every year, making it vital that antibiotics are used only when needed.

Today’s announcements follows the government’s 2040 AMR vision and 5-year national action plan, published in January, and the appointment of Professor Dame Sally Davies as the first UK Special Envoy on AMR