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NHS trials new payment system to encourage development of new antibiotics

The launch of the payment model is designed to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new antibiotics.

Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary


Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, has announced a new payment scheme that will pay pharmaceutical companies upfront for access to medicines, based on their usefulness to the NHS

A subscription-style payment system is to be trialled by the NHS to help encourage the development of new antibiotics, the health secretary has announced.

The “first-of-its kind” payment model, led by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, NHS England and NHS Improvement, will pay pharmaceutical companies upfront for access to medicines based on their usefulness to the NHS.

Currently, pharmaceutical companies are paid by the volume of antibiotics sold. It is hoped that the system will incentivise companies to invest the estimated £1bn it costs to develop a new medicine, with reassurance that they will still be paid even if the medicine is stored for reserves.

“Having a full pipeline of antimicrobials is critical in our efforts to address AMR, but currently not enough pharmaceutical companies are investing in the development of new drugs,” said Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, when he announced the scheme on 9 July 2019.

“We are sending a strong signal to the rest of the world that there are workable models to stimulate investment in these vital medicines and that together we can tackle AMR.”

Sheuli Porkess, executive director of research, medical and innovation at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “The sooner we get this pilot up and running, the sooner we can apply what we find to other antimicrobials in development.”

study published in PLOS One on 5 July 2019 found that resistance for five pathogen–santibiotic pairs on the World Health Organization’s priority pathogens list, including methicillin-resistant Streptococcus aureus, would remain below 50% in France, Italy, Spain and the UK in 2026.

The researchers said their conclusions were based on the positive impact of antibiotic resistance surveillance programmes, the improvement of knowledge about the dynamics of resistance, and changes in relevant polices.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206782

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