Two new drugs to fight superbugs available on NHS soon

antibioticsImage source, Getty Images

Two new medications which fight drug-resistant superbugs could soon become available to NHS patients in England.

Drugs' watchdog NICE says cefiderocol and ceftazidime with avibactam offer value for money and will save lives.

These 'last line of defence' drugs will tackle severe infections which cannot be cleared by other treatments.

Under the deal, a fixed annual fee will be paid to manufacturers to cover their development costs, rather than individual payments for each dose.

The subscription-style payment model is part of the government's strategy to incentivise companies to make essential drugs such as these, alongside the so-called blockbuster drugs which typically make huge profits for pharmaceutical giants.

Antimicrobial resistance is a major issue which threatens to set modern medicine back to the pre-antibiotic era.

Without effective drugs to address superbugs, routine surgery - such as hip replacements - will become too dangerous to perform, for example.

Some of the bacteria and other micro-organisms behind common, treatable diseases - including tuberculosis and gonorrhoea - have acquired the ability to dodge medicines. Hard-to-treat infections already kill more than a million people per year globally, researchers estimate.

The two new drugs, approved in draft guidelines from NICE, will help patients with risky urinary tract infections, pneumonia and sepsis.

NHS commercial medicines director Blake Dark said: "This is an important step in our world-leading approach to incentivise innovation in antimicrobial drugs and the battle against drug-resistant infections.

"The NHS will now use its commercial power to secure deals that will enable NHS patients to benefit from these treatments, delivering on its Long Term Plan commitment and paving the way for a pipeline of future treatment options."

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest health threats facing the world and I'm incredibly proud that the UK's world-leading innovations are helping to develop two antibiotics which will save many lives.

"NHS patients with severe resistance to other drugs could soon access these medicines, giving them a much greater chance of survival.

"It's great to see international interest in this new development which will help incentivise investment in developing new antibiotics - together we can ensure our children can continue to treat common infections in the future."

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