NHS England is set to roll out two new antimicrobial drugs to patients with severe bacterial infections after making its first deal using a subscription payment scheme.
In a press release, published on 15 June 2022, NHS England said that around 1,700 patients per year with severe bacterial infections would be eligible for the drugs cefiderocol (Fetcroja; Shionogi) and ceftazidime + avibactam (Zavicefta; Pfizer).
The payment scheme, originally announced on 9 July 2019, means pharmaceutical firms will receive a fixed yearly fee to manufacture and supply the drugs to the NHS, which the government says is capped at a level that represents value to taxpayers.
The scheme is aimed to make it more attractive for companies to produce new antibiotics and counter the growing threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
On 12 April 2022, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published draft guidance recommending cefiderocol and ceftazidime with avibactam for the treatment of severe aerobic Gram-negative bacterial infections. These evaluations formed the basis for the commercial discussions between NHS England and the drug manufacturers.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive at NHS England, said that the new drugs would save lives and “strike a blow” in the global battle against AMR.
“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,” she said.
Paul Catchpole, value and access policy director at the Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry, described the news as “excellent”.
“It lays the groundwork for rapidly establishing a permanent sustainable UK-wide solution for evaluating and reimbursing new antibiotics, which recognises the full value these treatments bring to patients, the NHS and society,” he said.
“This will allow the UK to play a full part, alongside the most developed economies, to incentivise further global innovation.
“While approaches may be different across regions of the world, taken together they must act as an appropriate global incentive if we are to effectively tackle the growing challenge of antimicrobial drug resistance”.