At present, companies are paid by the volume of antibiotics sold. Photo: iStock

The NHS, on Tuesday, announced the launch of a new trial to test the world’s first ‘subscription’ style payment model to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs for resistant infections.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), NHS England and NHS Improvement are leading the trial, and they are calling for companies to identify products to be considered for the initial phase of the test.

At present, companies are paid by the volume of antibiotics sold, but the new model will pay pharmaceutical companies upfront based on usefulness of the drug to the NHS.

The new model is expected to be more attractive for companies to invest in, as they would be paid even if the drug weren’t stored for reserves.

“Having a full pipeline of antimicrobials is critical in our efforts to address AMR, but currently not enough pharmaceutical companies are investing in the development of new drugs,” Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Nicola Blackwood, said.

The NHS is currently trying to reduce the use of antibiotics to prevent antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The latest announcement follows the government’s 2040 AMR vision and 5-year national action plan and Professor Dame Sally Davies’ appointment as the first UK Special Envoy on AMR.

The government is also trying to include as many countries to the project as it is the only way to address the global market.

The last phase of the ‘Keep Antibiotics Working Campaign’ is also set to be launched in October, to help reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics.

“Tackling superbugs needs global leadership and peoples’ lives depend on us finding a new way forward,” Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said.

“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,” he added.