Hope for drug-resistant superbugs as NHS strikes with pharma companies | UK News


Hundreds of patients across England are to be given new drugs to fight superbugs as part of a deal it hopes will “save lives and deal a blow” in the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.

About 1,700 patients a year will receive the NHS’ new ‘superbug-busting drugs’ for infections that have become resistant to traditional antibiotics.

That NHS has reached an agreement with pharmaceutical companies to incentivize the development of the new drugs.

According to data from Public Health England, around 65,000 people develop drug-resistant infections known as superbugs each year, which equates to 178 people a day.

Experts have previously warned that development of new drugs to treat infections has dried up – raising concerns that even ordinary surgeries could become deadly if the current group of drugs become ineffective.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified antimicrobial resistance as “one of the top 10 public health threats facing humanity”.

The deal sees the NHS pay up to £10million a year for up to 10 years.

The first drugs to be launched are called cefiderocol and ceftazidime-avibactam and will be manufactured by Shionogi and Pfizer, respectively.

“Gives Hope to Thousands of Patients”

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, said the agreement “provides a template” for other countries and “gives new hope to thousands of patients who previously had no treatment options”.

She added: “NHS superbug-busting drugs will save lives and strike a blow in the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.

“Until now, innovation in antibiotics has been limited, but this groundbreaking NHS subscription program aims to turn the tide by working with pharmaceutical companies to ensure we have these superbug-fighting drugs ready and available for the patients who take them need it most.”

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The WHO said without a steady supply of effective medicines, the “success of modern medicine in treating infections, including during major surgery and cancer chemotherapy, would be at increased risk”.

Antimicrobials include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics.

The WHO says resistance occurs when “bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites mutate” and then become unresponsive to drugs, making infections “more difficult to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, serious illness and death.” .

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