2022-06-16| FundingPolicy

UK Launches World-First Program With Two Antimicrobial Drugs to Counter Superbugs

by Fujie Tham
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The UK National Health Service (NHS) will adopt two medicines against antimicrobial-resistant infections, or superbugs, through a pioneering subscription-based deal that will help tackle antimicrobial resistance. Around 1,700 patients yearly with severe bacterial infections will be eligible for the drugs – Shionogi’s cefiderocol and Pfizer’s ceftazidime-avibactam. 

Announced at the NHS ConfedExpo, the program is the first in the world to pay drug manufacturers a fixed fee for antibiotics supplies to finance development of new antibiotics and boost global efforts to combat drug resistance. With a contract worth a maximum of £10 million a year for up to 10 years, NHS hopes the program will provide companies better incentives to develop urgently needed antibiotics, while preventing overprescription at the same time.

Mark Hill, SVP, Shionogi’s Global Head of Market Access, said: “Shionogi supports the UK’s leadership position with the introduction of the world’s first subscription reimbursement model for antimicrobials. It is hoped that this model will encourage investment in this critical area and promote good stewardship to limit the potential development of antimicrobial resistance. We have worked closely with NHSE to agree a deal to begin reimbursement of our antibiotic, as part of this innovative scheme and look forward to partnering with NHS England.”

Related article: First Successful Use of Phages for Treating Antibiotic-Resistant Lung Infection 


WHO – Antimicrobial Resistance Is One of the Top 10 Public Health Threats Facing Humanity


Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria evolve and stop responding to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of spread, severe illness, and death. As a result of resistance, antibiotics and antimicrobials become ineffective, and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat. These new antibiotics mean patients with serious infections that antibiotics and other present treatments are no longer effective can have a potentially life-saving alternative.

In this subscription model, manufacturers are guaranteed a revenue level better than conventional volume-based sales, making it attractive to develop and trial new antibiotics. “This world-leading agreement not only provides a template for other countries to follow, incentivising antimicrobial drug innovation globally, as we collectively deal with this threat to modern medicine and public health, but also gives new hope to thousands of patients who previously had no treatment options left,” said NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard.

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