NHS to test new pharmaceutical payment system

The NHS will test the world's first ‘subscription’ style payment model to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs for resistant infections.

Led by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), alongside NHS England and NHS Improvement, the new trial will test a ‘subscription’ style model that pays pharmaceutical companies upfront for access to drugs based on their usefulness to the NHS.

The Department of Health and Social Care believes that this will make it more attractive for companies to invest the estimated £1 billion it costs to develop a new drug, as they can be reassured they will still be paid for the drug even though it may be stored for reserves.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “There is no greater threat to global health than drug-resistant infections, yet there have been no major new antibiotic drug classes discovered since the 1980s. Imagine a world in which a papercut can lead to infection that can’t be controlled. We must stop that from happening. Tackling superbugs needs global leadership and peoples’ lives depend on us finding a new way forward.  

“Our NHS is in a unique position to take a global lead in testing new payment models. We will take the lead but this is a global problem and we cannot succeed alone. I am proud the UK is taking the first steps towards a solution and I am urging the rest of the world to join us in the fight against superbugs.”

The announcements follows the government’s 2040 AMR vision and five-year national action plan, published in January, and the appointment of Professor Dame Sally Davies as the first UK Special Envoy on AMR.

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