Hundreds of patients across England are expected to benefit from new drugs to fight superbugs, thanks to a subscription scheme the NHS has set up with pharmaceutical companies.
1,700 patients a year are expected to receive the new antimicrobials for infections that have become resistant to traditional antibiotics.
The drugs are the first to be developed through an innovative scheme where the NHS paid a flat annual fee to pharmaceutical companies to encourage them to develop new drugs to help combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
Experts have warned in the past that the pipeline of new drugs to treat infections has dried up and even common operations could turn deadly if current drugs used to treat infections become ineffective.
About 65,000 people a year develop drug-resistant infections dubbed superbugs, which equates to 178 people a day, according to data from Public Health England.
As a result, the NHS closed the deal to encourage the development of new drugs.
The first to be launched are called cefiderocol and ceftazidime-avibactam, manufactured by Shionogi and Pfizer, respectively.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, announced that the first drugs developed through the scheme will now be rolled out to England’s health service.
Speaking at the NHS ConfedExpo conference, she said: “Drugs that fight superbugs on the NHS will save lives and deal a blow to the global battle against antimicrobial resistance.
“Until now, innovation in antibiotics has been limited, but this pioneering NHS subscription scheme aims to turn the tide by working with pharmaceutical companies to ensure we have these drugs that fight superbugs ready and available to the patients who need them most.
“This world-leading agreement not only provides a model for other countries to follow, spurring antimicrobial drug innovation globally as we collectively address this threat to modern medicine and public health, it also gives new hope to thousands of patients who previously could not. had treatment options remaining.
“We have shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the power of working together, combining our experience across all industries, in order to tackle emerging risks – whether Covid-19 or the very real threat of antimicrobial resistance – head-on. .”
NHS Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Stephen Powis added: “This is a major milestone in the country’s quest to address the growing global threat of antimicrobial resistance and it is fantastic that the NHS has been able to establish the footprint to address this and deliver a deal. revolutionary two years ahead of the target set by the Government in 2019.
“Tens of thousands of people suffer from drug-resistant superbugs every year in England and this agreement will offer hope to those who have had little or no success with current treatments.”
The NHS deal will see the health service pay up to a maximum of £10 million a year for up to 10 years.