UK to launch world-first subscription model for antibiotics

UK to launch world-first subscription model for antibiotics

  • 12/04/2022

With the goal of counteracting the growing world-wide crisis over resistance to antibiotics, the United Kingdom will soon become the first country to pay a fixed fee (‘Netflix-type subscription model’) to pharma companies for supplying antibiotics, aiming at incentivizing companies to develop new antibiotics. The fixed fee will amount to £10mn a year.

Incentives for big pharma to invest into developing antibiotics were always low, as antibiotics would be held back to treat patients who really need them, while overprescribing needed to be avoided in order to prevent resistances.

It is estimated that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) causes more than one million deaths per year around the globe. This puts pressure on medical professionals to reduce the use of antibiotics in all but the most serious cases. The deal now made by NHS and Pfizer of the US and Shionogi of Japan foresees for drug companies to be paid a fixed fee of £10mn a year. Until date, the reimbursement system in place which is based on sales volume often fails to provide sufficient revenue to justify efforts into R&D. The value of £10mn was set at a level that would incentivize international companies to invest into antibiotic research and development, if other countries pay proportionate sums scaled to their gross domestic product.

Director-general of IFPMA Thomas Cueni, said: “We call on the other leading governments to put all efforts into progressing their own incentive models so that sufficient global scale is achieved that will attract the necessary investment in R&D.” Two new antibiotics made by Pfizer and Shionogi have already passed a key value-for-money evaluation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). NHS England aims to conclude innovative “subscription-style contracts” with the manufacturers this summer.

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