UK to test subscription payment model for antibiotics

10 July 2019 (Last Updated July 10th, 2019 12:48)

The UK Government has announced the trial of a subscription style payment system aimed at encouraging the development of new antibiotics to treat resistant infections. 

UK to test subscription payment model for antibiotics
The new payment model will see an upfront payment to pharmaceutical companies for access to antibiotics. Credit: © F1 Digitals from Pixabay.

The UK Government has announced the trial of a subscription style payment system aimed at encouraging the development of new antibiotics to treat resistant infections.

NHS England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS Improvement will lead the trial.

A recent report by the UN Ad hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance showed that drug-resistant diseases will be responsible for ten million deaths each year by 2050.

This highlights the need for the use of antibiotics only when needed and the development of new drugs.

Under the new model, the UK intends to pay upfront to pharmaceutical companies for access to medicines depending on their worth to the NHS.

Currently, companies are paid based on the volume of antibiotics sold and the drugs may be stored for reserves until required, lowering their cost.

Low returns on investment in development imply reduced industry funding in the research and clinical trials of new antibiotics.

The upfront payment with the new model is expected to encourage drugmakers to invest the estimated £1bn required to develop a new medication, as the companies will be paid even though the product may be held in reserves.

NICE, NHS England and NHS Improvement have urged drug companies to identify products to be considered for the initial phase of the new test.

UK Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “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.

“This project is an important step but it will only address global market failure if other countries do the same, which is why we want to involve as many countries as we can and share our learning from this work.”

In January, the UK unveiled five and 20 year plans to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country by 2040. The aim was to cut antibiotics use by 15% over the next five years.