In recent years, apocalyptic conversations around superbugs caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) have been on the up, but just in case we were becoming immune to these warnings, the UK has dropped a big announcement that not only indicates the country’s commitment to the problem but also the imminent threat that AMR poses to humanity.


The UK government is now pledging to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to develop urgently needed anti-infectives to fight resistant bacteria, with the health secretary saying “we are on the cusp of a world where a simple graze could be deadly”.


It was announced (January 24) that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and NHS England will trial a value-based pricing model for antibiotics to help stimulate R&D and address growing AMR concerns.


This means moving away from the traditional approach of directly linking payments to sales volume – a pricing strategy that fails antibiotics.


Big Pharma is often criticised for focusing their efforts on breakthrough drugs rather than the far less profitable and risky venture of trying to develop a new antibiotic.


A value-based pricing scheme, however, has the potential to stimulate antibiotic R&D as companies will be incentivized to produce drugs for smaller patient groups where there is a high unmet medical need without the concern of stumping ROI.


The new payment model will be underway within six months, with the government aiming to reduce the number of drug-resistant infections by 5,000, or 10%, by 2025 – and prevent at least 15,000 patients a year from contracting infections as a result of their healthcare by 2024.