The Obama administration on Thursday announced measures to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, outlining a national strategy that includes incentives to spur the development of new drugs, tighter stewardship of existing ones and a national tracking system for antibiotic-resistant illness. The actions are part of the first major federal effort to confront a public health crisis that takes at least 23,000 lives a year.
The full story is here.
The Hill has more detail. It is an executive order:
The president’s directive creates the Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, co-chaired by the secretaries of Defense, Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
The group is charged with implementing a plan to track and prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, promote better practices for the use of current drugs and push for a new generation of antibiotic medications.
To that end, the White House on Thursday announced a $20 million prize “to facilitate the development of rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for healthcare providers to identify highly resistant bacterial infections.”
The added incentive and the timeframe given to the task force indicate the urgency with which the administration is acting, said Dr. Eric Lander, who co-chairs the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
“This is a pretty tight timeline to now come up with a national game plan,” Lander said.
There is also this:
In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled a plan to phase out the use of antimicrobials for the purpose of fattening chickens, pigs or other animals destined for human consumption. But the plan relies in part on voluntary industry cooperation, and advocates argue the government’s efforts are lagging behind even some industry players.
This initiative — or its failure — is potentially a more important health issue than Obamacare, yet it will not receive 1/1000th of the attention. Without reliable antibiotics, a lot of now-routine operations would become a kind of lottery.
Here are previous MR posts on antibiotic resistance. I would note it is difficult to judge such a plan at the current level of detail. It is better than nothing, but any initial plan is going to be not nearly enough, relative to an ideal. By the way, Alex tells me there is also a British prize, discussed here.