NICE urges government cooperation on antibiotic development

New antibiotics will not be developed unless governments work together to provide incentives to pharmaceutical companies, NICE chairman Professor Sir Michael Rawlins believes.

Speaking at a Bupa health debate yesterday, Sir Michael said that antibiotics were one class of drugs for which the current system did not provide incentives for development. He suggested that advanced purchase agreements, such as those used for antiviral drugs, could be used to sole the problem.

‘We have not had a new antibiotic for years and no new tuberculosis treatment for 30 years,’ he pointed out. ‘If you come up with a penicillin that works a different way and that is pretty well safe, the first thing that every healthcare system will do is to restrict its use, in order to ensure you don’t have resistance emerging from it.

‘There is absolutely no incentive on any pharmaceutical company to do this, because the market is going to be minute,’ he added. ‘We need an advanced purchase agreement, a multinational deal with GSK and other pharmaceutical companies, and say if you develop a new antibiotic, we’ll buy it.’

  • Should pharma companies be incentivised to research particular areas?

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