New 5-year plan to combat antimicrobial resistance

The government has announced its new national action plan on antimicrobial resistance to protect people and animals from the risk of drug-resistant infections.

The national action plan will reduce the UK’s use of antimicrobials—such as antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals—in humans and animals, strengthening surveillance of drug-resistant infections before they emerge and incentivising the industry to develop the next generation of treatments.

It commits to continue to innovate through initiatives such as indicating that the world-first ‘subscription model’, which was launched in 2019 as a pilot, could be expanded.

This will see more companies paid a fixed annual fee for antimicrobials based primarily on their value to the NHS, as opposed to the volumes used.

Why do we become resistant to antimicrobials?

AMR occurs when bacteria and other microorganisms develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, making them less responsive or unresponsive to treatment.

Avoiding unnecessary antibiotic usage in humans and animals is crucial to slowing the development and spread of antibiotic resistance.

It is estimated that in 2019, 1.27 million deaths globally were caused by infections resistant to antibiotics.

The UK is committed to playing a central role in the global effort to confront AMR by taking a comprehensive approach that leverages the country’s expertise and domestic experience.

“Antibiotics are one of the most powerful tools we have against infection. Resistance to these drugs poses a significant threat to the lives of many people in the UK and around the world,” explained Professor Chris Whitty, UK Chief Medical Officer.

“AMR is not just a matter for clinicians – it’s important to work across sectors to help preserve these vital medicines to minimise the impact of AMR.”

Tackling the global threat of antimicrobial resistance

The plan will build on progress towards the UK’s 20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance, which will see AMR contained, controlled and mitigated – protecting public health by increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, disability and death.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “Almost 8,000 people in the UK die from drug-resistant infections every year. If this continues to spread, common infections and injuries that were once easily treatable become harder, and in some cases impossible, to treat.

“Our 5-year action plan outlines our commitment to leading the way in tackling AMR, including through expanding our world-first subscription model to accelerate research into new treatments.”

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