Whitehall plans new purchasing model for antibiotics

25 January 2019

The UK government has announced plans to develop new procurement models for antimicrobial medication as part of an action plan against antibiotic resistance.

In a report the government said it wanted to strike a balance between financial cost and maintaining an adequate supply of antibiotics.

The report said the UK would “develop and test new models for national purchasing arrangements that de-link the price paid for antimicrobials from the volumes sold”.

Shortages could be expensive and a piperacillin/tazobactam shortage in 2017 cost the NHS more than £30m in temporary price increases, said the report.

The report said robust forecasting and strong supplier relations would help minimise the risk of shortages.

“We also want to ensure our procurement and supply mechanisms strike the right balance between maintaining adequate supply with financial cost to the NHS,” said the report.

The report, referring to Lord O’Neill’s 2016 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), said countries should support international action through better national purchasing arrangements and aim to “balance innovation with good stewardship”.

“The UK is keen to demonstrate that this can be done,” said the report.

The document said securing wider access to antimicrobial drugs required international action to improve global supply chains and strengthen health systems.

This would take place alongside action at a national level to ensure the UK’s procurement and supply mechanisms do not incentivise unnecessary use of new and existing drugs.

The report added: “Avoiding shortages of critical first-line antibiotics is important to support good clinical management and make sure that health workers can prescribe the right drug, not just the one at hand.”

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