Patients in Wales are to get access to AstraZeneca's antibiotic Zinforo on the National Health Service for serious skin infections.

The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) has recommended Zinforo(ceftaroline fosamil) as an option for restricted use in Wales for patients with complicated skin and soft tissue infections, suspected to be due to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The drug is the only approved cephalosporin monotherapy in Europe with demonstrated clinical efficacy against MRSA.

The green light from the European Medicines Agency came in September 2012. AstraZeneca notes that MRSA is a major cause of cSSTI, affecting 150,000 patients per year and resulting in extra in-hospital costs of 380 million euros: recent data from Wales shows the rate of MRSA cases being five per 100,000 bed days.

AstraZeneca quoted Neil Carbarns, a consultant at the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, as saying cSSTI is "a common problem in hospitalised patients in Wales that have become increasingly difficult to treat, in part because of resistant infections such as MRSA". He argues that Zinforo "provides an important new treatment option that may help overcome some of the current challenges we face…without compromising on tolerability".

The AWMSG positive decision follows a similar recommendation by the Scottish Medicines Consortium in January. Zinforo, which will be available in Wales at the list price of £375 for a pack of 10 vials, was licensed in 2009 from Forest Laboratories. The latter launched the drug, as Teflaro, in the USA in March 2011.