U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced his legislation to protect Ohioans from deadly “superbugs” by combatting antibiotic resistance. Misuse and overuse of antibiotics to fight disease have led to resistant bacteria and a growing shortage of effective antibiotic drugs. This impacts more than two million Americans each year – with an estimated 23,000 dying as a result – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Brown is reintroducing legislation that would strengthen federal response to antibiotic resistance by increasing data collection and monitoring, prevention and control, and research efforts.
“Antibiotics do a world of good for Ohioans fighting infections and illness, but now antibiotics are becoming less effective, putting people at risk from dangerous infections that can’t be cured,” said Brown. “We should address this growing crisis head on, both to stop the spread of deadly superbugs and to preserve antibiotics as a tool to fight disease.”
“Antibiotic resistance is seriously jeopardizing patient safety, public health and national security,” said Dr. Thomas M. File, who chairs Summa Health’s Infectious Disease Unit in Akron, and serves as Vice President of the Infectious Disease Society of America. “Without safe and effective antibiotics, many of the life-saving medical procedures we have come to rely upon—including cancer chemotherapy, complex surgeries and organ transplants—may become impossible to perform. Senator Brown’s important legislation will strengthen our public health infrastructure for combating antibiotic resistance and help protect us from returning to the pre-antibiotic era, in which common infections could be deadly.”
Drug-resistant infections – like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – are impacting more than just hospitals and are also infecting healthy adults and children. If left unaddressed, antibiotic resistance could result in a generation of antibiotics that are virtually ineffective, seriously jeopardizing patient safety and public health. It is estimated that the total economic cost of antibiotic resistance to the U.S. economy is more than $20 billion a year in excess health care costs, with additional costs to society for lost productivity as high as $35 billion a year.
Brown’s bill, the Strategies to Address Antibiotic Resistance (STAAR) Act, would provide a multi-pronged strategy to help limit the growing impact of antibiotic resistance, positively impacting the nation’s overall health and national security, and lowering the costs associated with antimicrobial-resistance. Specifically, the bill would:
- Reauthorize the Interagency Antimicrobial Resistance Task Force and codify sections of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB), to promote prevention and track antibiotic use and resistance.
- Enact key CDC recommendations to place greater emphasis on federal antimicrobial resistance surveillance, prevention and control, and research efforts.
- Authorize the use of grants to healthcare facilities to study the development and implementation of antimicrobial stewardship programs aimed at expanding efforts to encourage appropriate use of antibiotics.
- Allow the CDC to partner with state health departments to implement prevention collaboratives, and to expand public health partnerships through the CDC’s established Prevention Epi-Centers work.
- Require annual reports to Congress on implementation.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America strongly supports legislation introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) —the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act—that will strengthen US government responses to this growing public health crisis. AMR poses a significant threat to patient safety, public health and even national security. A well-coordinated, sustained federal response is necessary to improve prevention, detection, tracking and treatment of infections caused by dangerous multidrug resistant pathogens.
Antimicrobial resistance makes an increasing number of infections difficult, and in some cases impossible, to treat. Because so many medical procedures—from cancer chemotherapy to joint replacements, from solid organ and bone marrow transplants to the care of preterm infants—rely upon the availability of safe and effective antibiotics, prevalent, resistant pathogens will dramatically turn back much of modern medicine’s progress if the status quo continues.
Public health emergencies can also become even more devastating due to AMR. Many hospitalizations and deaths attributed influenza are actually due to secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can be more challenging to treat due to resistance. While our current influenza season is particularly harsh, the toll would be even higher in an influenza pandemic. Similarly, in a mass casualty event, wounds and burns can quickly become infected. Increasing resistance rates and our dwindling antibiotic arsenal will make those infections harder to treat.
Senator Brown’s important bill builds upon bipartisan investments in addressing AMR by reinforcing our public health capacity for prevention, detection and tracking antibiotic resistance threats. Robust pathogen and disease surveillance are essential to allow clinicians, scientists, and public health experts to mobilize rapidly against emerging threats and to assess the impact of interventions. The STAAR Act would also drive the implementation of antimicrobial stewardship programs in health care facilities that have proven to improve patient outcomes while lowering inappropriate antibiotic use that causes the development of resistance. The legislation would also strengthen research on AMR to help ensure the availability of evidence-based techniques and innovative tools to combat AMR.
IDSA sincerely appreciates Senator Brown’s leadership on this critical issue and we call upon all Senators to support this vital legislation.