Newly announced UK Government antibiotic reimbursement scheme welcomed – but will it be enough?

Peter Gibson ANTRUK announcements

Professor Colin Garner

The UK Government has announced “A pioneering scheme to provide new antibiotics to NHS patients by offering to pay pharmaceutical companies upfront for their work will start this week.”
Here is the reaction of our chief executive Professor Colin Garner, to the scheme:
“Antibiotic resistance, when infectious bacteria become resistant to antibiotics is an increasing problem around the world. Increases in drug resistant infections are seen in the UK and appear to be rising year on year. Finding new antibiotics to treat resistant bacteria is challenging both scientifically and financially. On the other hand antibiotics underpin much of modern medicine and are essential if we are to continue saving lives.
Today the UK government announced a pilot trial using a subscription model to reimburse pharmaceutical companies who develop new antibiotics. Two existing but novel antibiotics provided by pharmaceutical companies will be assessed over the next two years as to their efficacy and their value to the NHS in saving lives. The UK government is also encouraging other governments around the world to set up similar schemes as antibiotic resistance is a global, national and local problem.
I welcome the introduction of this new scheme which has been under discussion for many months as a first step in the journey of tackling what might become a global pandemic. We have been campaigning for a number of years for such a scheme to be introduced (see https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/antibiotic-research-uk-announces-five-point-action-plan-tackle-amr/) Like all such schemes the devil will be in the detail – little has been provided in the release. Pharma companies are commercial businesses and always have to calculate whether they will make a return on investment. Any significant reimbursement model for antibiotics would have to compete with other therapeutic areas which are more profitable.
On the other hand our view is that pharma companies have a civic duty to invest in drugs that save lives and in the case of antibiotics modern medicine. I look forward to seeing further details from the government to help safeguard ourselves, our children and grandchildren from resistant bacterial infections.