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NICE assessments could reform in new superbug plan

January 24, 2019 / Richard Staines

The UK government has published a new five-year plan aimed at tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including a new NHS reimbursement scheme backed by NICE to encourage pharma to develop new antibiotics. Health secretary Matt Hancock announced the new plan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in order to raise awareness among global leaders about the scale of the problem. Over the last few decades, development of new antibiotics has almost ground to a halt as big pharma does not think it is worth the low return on investment.
An independent review of AMR by economist Jim O’Neill and commissioned by former prime minister David Cameron and published in summer 2016, has already blamed the dearth of new antibiotics on a “market failure” that does not sufficiently reward R&D. At the same time, more and more bacterial strains resistant to older drugs are emerging, which could kill 10 million people every year by 2050, according to estimates in the report. The...