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NHS to offer two new treatments for drug-resistant superbugs as part of a new subscription-style payment plan

Manufacturers will receive a fixed yearly fee of £10m, instead of receiving individual payments per dose


NHS England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the UK Department of Health have concluded an assessment of Pfizer’s Zavicefta (ceftazidime with avibactam) and Shionogi’s Fetcroja (cefiderocol).

Fetcroja can be used to treat urinary tract infections, including kidney infections, and Zavicefta can be used to treat patients with pneumonia and sepsis. Both new drugs have been approved in draft guidelines issued by NICE.

The two new antibiotics will be part of a new subscription-style payment plan, in a move by government to motivate drug manufacturers to make essential drugs, not just drugs that typically attract record revenues for pharma companies.

Both Pfizer and Shionogi submitted the drugs for consideration in the scheme when it was first made public in 2019.

According to the payment plan, NHS England will pay a fixed yearly fee of £10m to access the two medicines, which will be paid to the manufacturers to cover production costs. This sum is based on the value they offer the NHS, rather than charging individual payments per dose.

The proposed deals, which are still in the draft stages, will run for ten years and are expected to be completed over the course of the next few weeks.

Blake Dark, NHS commercial medicines director, said: "The NHS will now use its commercial power to secure deals that will enable NHS patients to benefit from these treatments, delivering on its Long Term Plan commitment and paving the way for a pipeline of future treatment options."

It is hoped that a fixed payment plan – independent of the amount of antibiotics used – will incentivise drug companies to increase their R&D efforts for antimicrobial treatments, in the race to develop effective drugs against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR-related infections have resulted in 12,000 deaths in people living in the UK alone, and cause the deaths of more than a million people globally every year. Some of the bacteria behind common, usually treatable diseases, including gonorrhoea and tuberculosis, have evolved and medicines are becoming progressively ineffective.

Incentivising pharma companies is crucial, due to the scarcity of new antibiotics emerging through industry pipelines, as highlighted by Nick Crabb, programme director of scientific affairs at NICE, who said in a recent BBC interview that only around 40 new antimicrobials were in clinical development in 2020, compared to more than 1,800 immuno-oncology drugs.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

20th April 2022

From: Regulatory



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