Contracts are set to be offered to pharmaceutical companies, paying them at the beginning of their work, in order to incentivise work in bringing new antibiotics to market which could counteract antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
As part of the deals, of which the NHS reportedly has two contracts ready to offer, the healthcare service would secure access to the innovative treatments, with NHS patients potentially able to benefit from them as early as 2022.
It will represent the world’s first ‘subscription-style’ payment model for antibiotics and is likely to target development of new antibiotics to treat some of the deadliest diseases. Of particular interest are antibiotics which can provide alternative treatments for serious infections, such as bloodstream infections, sepsis and hospital-acquired pneumonia.
Often, the high costs and low returns associated with antibiotic research and development make it a commercially unattractive enterprise for the pharmaceutical industry, prompting the unique ‘subscription-style’ payment model approach the UK government is taking in this instance.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The incredible discovery of antibiotics nearly 100 years ago transformed the health of our nation and our ability to combat infections. Diseases that were once a death sentence are now treated in just one small step.
“But resistance to antibiotics is increasing and it’s imperative we take urgent action on a national and global scale to protect future generations.
“This new way of buying antibiotics for patients in the NHS breaks down restrictive barriers to offer companies a vital springboard to foster innovation and develop potentially life-saving new products.”
The contracts represent the world’s first ‘subscription-style’ payment model for antibiotics and is likely to target development of new antibiotics to treat some of the deadliest diseases
Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, added: “Antibiotics underpin modern medicine and are integral for global health security. Governments and industry must work together to produce new antibiotics and ensure that we can continue to treat common diseases.
“The UK is leading the way by encouraging companies to produce new antibiotics to stay one step ahead of life-threatening diseases.”
The payment model, which was launched back in July 2019, will pay pharmaceutical companies upfront for access to their antibiotic product, based on a product’s value to the NHS, rather than how much is used.
This aims to incentivise companies to invest in researching and developing new antibiotics, helping secure much-needed alternative treatment options for NHS patients.
Two drugs which have proven to be both safe and effective during trials will then be selected to undergo health technology assessment (HTA) by NICE throughout 2021 using adapted methods for antimicrobials. The HTA will be used to decide the level of the subscription payment.
From this week, suppliers can register their interest for the scheme on NHS England’s eTendering Service.