Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

United Kingdom launches payment model for antimicrobials

United Kingdom launches payment model for antimicrobials

"Antimicrobial resistance is as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare".

There hasn't been a new class of antibiotics since the 1980s, continued Hancock, which is "shocking and deeply troubling".

AMR poses such a substantial threat that it is predicted to kill 10 million people every year by 2050, due to the misuse of medicines, and without effective antibiotics, routine operations could become too unsafe to perform. Yet without urgent action, we may be entering a post-antibiotic era when these treatments no longer work.

Pharmacists will play a crucial role in the Government's bid to cut antibiotic use by 15%, according to its five-year national plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Medical charity the Wellcome Trust welcomed news of the government plan but urged it to move quickly. "The impacts of unchecked antimicrobial resistance are wide-ranging and extremely costly, not only in financial terms, but also in terms of global health, food security, environmental wellbeing, and socio-economic development", it said.

The government said that, without action, AMR could be responsible for 10 million deaths around the world each year by 2050.

The most recent official figures showed that in 2017, United Kingdom veterinary antibiotics sales had fallen to their lowest level in 25 years.

The five-year document also sets out a series of targets to ensure progress towards the 20-year vision - these include halving health associated Gram-negative blood stream infections, reducing antimicrobial use by 15% by 2024.

About 200 missing after dam bursts in Brazil
General view from above of a dam owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA that burst, in Brumadinho, Brazil January 25, 2019. Survivors stand in the mud brought in by a burst dam in the area of Minas Gerais, Brazil , on January 25, 2019.

At the heart of that plan is the development of a new way of paying for antibiotics that he said will start development in the NHS within the next six months.

The government plans to change the way it funds drug companies to encourage them to develop new medicine, and Hancock said antibiotics will now only be used "when absolutely necessary". "I don't want it to be the future for my children - yet it may be unless we act", Hancock is expected to say.

But the number of drug-resistant bloodstream infections has increased by 35% from 2013 to 2017.

Diagnostic tests for bacterial infections now take 48 hours to produce results, meaning there is a danger that infections are treat without the right information.

"This plan makes a strong argument for continuing United Kingdom leadership on this important debate, but we must move further and faster to ensure there is a sustainable pipeline for the antibiotics we so urgently need", he added.

"The pig industry has shown itself to up to the antibiotic challenge so far, but it is not complacent about the fact that there is more to be done". Everyday operations like caesarean sections or hip replacements could become too risky to perform in the absence of effective antibiotics.

Only three countries in WHO's African region and seven countries in its Americas region have limited the use of antimicrobials in animals, moves which World Health Organization calls "an important step to reduce the emergence of antimicrobial resistance".

But antibiotics are easily available over the counter in many low- and middle-income countries, which means "unregulated medicines are still available in places such as street markets, with no limits on how they are used", it said.

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