The Microbiology Society responds to NHS England consultation on the antimicrobial products subscription model

30 November 2023

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The Microbiology Society has coordinated a response to a consultation launched by the NHS on proposals for a subscription-style payment model for antimicrobial products.

To keep pace with the emergence antimicrobial resistance (AMR), it is crucial that new antimicrobial medicines are continuously developed and bought to market. However, over the last 20 years there has been a 75% decline in the number of newly approved antibiotics. Pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to fund antimicrobial development as they are unlikely to see returns on their investment. Research and development costs are high, but restrictions on antimicrobial consumption, rightly put in place to reduce the risk of AMR occurring, make it difficult to maximise sales.

To tackle this issue, NHS England and Improvement, in collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) piloted a pioneering subscription-style payment model for antimicrobials that evaluates them on their estimated value to patients and the NHS, and reimburses companies based upon this value rather than volume supplied. In other words, pharmaceutical companies are guaranteed payment for new antimicrobials.

Following on from this pilot, the NHS launched a consultation on proposals to expand this approach to more antimicrobial products. The Microbiology Society responded to this consultation outlining potential challenges and opportunities.

The Microbiology Society strongly supports this initiative as an innovative solution to a complex, global problem, and we greatly appreciate this opportunity to feed into public health policy. 

Read the full consultation response here.