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Landmark moment for UK AMR efforts

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Words by GOLD newsdesk

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), NHS England and the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care have hit a crucial milestone in the country’s efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

The three bodies finalised an evaluation of two new antibiotics – one being Pfizer’s Zavicefta and the other being Shionogi’s Fetroja – that will both be paid for using a new subscription-style model, one that has been compared to a Netflix account.

These new antibiotics will only be used to treat patients with severe drug-resistant infections who would otherwise have no or limited treatment options.

The scheme aims to incentivise companies to invest in researching and developing new antimicrobials amid a concerning decline in antimicrobial development and increasing resistance to existing antimicrobials.

Under this plan, NHS England will pay a fixed annual fee for access to the two antibiotics of £10 million per year. These contracts and fixed annual fees are expected to last 10 years, however they are still in draft stages and are likely to be finalised over the coming weeks.

Highlighting the important milestone of the draft guidance, Nick Crabb, Programme Director, NICE Science, Evidence and Analytics Directorate, said: "We cannot address the global threat of antimicrobial resistance alone, since the UK represents only about 3% of the global market for antimicrobials. We are sharing our learning from this project with international stakeholders and encourage other countries to offer similar incentives in their own domestic markets, so that collectively we can achieve a meaningful incentive for global investment in antimicrobials.”

In 2019, the UK announced the new payment model, stating that it would mean pharmaceutical companies are paid upfront for their antimicrobial products, based on the value they provide to the NHS, as opposed to how much of the drug is used – the fixed annual fee is paid to the company regardless of how many prescriptions are issued.

The UK is set to be the first country worldwide to implement this new type of payment model for antimicrobials that is poised to challenge the decline in antimicrobial investment and development and tackle the growing global crisis of resistance to antimicrobials.

Commenting on the announcement of the new draft guidance, Richard Torbett, Chief Executive, ABPI said: "Rapid progress is needed to establish a permanent evaluation and reimbursement approach and deliver the incentives needed to develop these important medicines. Only then will patients across the whole UK be confident that they can access effective antibiotics now and into the future."

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