The NHS is to test a ‘subscription’ style model that pays pharmaceutical companies upfront for access to drugs based on their usefulness to the NHS.
The new trial aims to incentivise the development of novel antibiotics and will be led by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS England and NHS Improvement.
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. The scheme 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).
NICE and NHS England and NHS Improvement are now 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.
The announcement follows the government’s 2040 AMR vision and 5-year national action plan, published in January, and the recent appointment of Prof Dame Sally Davies as the first UK Special Envoy on AMR.