CLEVELAND, OH – With so-called “super bugs” on the rise, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a plan to combat antimicrobial resistance and call for greater federal attention to the increase in antibiotic-resistant infections, which affect more than two million Americans each year. Emerging antimicrobial resistance and the growing shortage of effective antibiotic drugs is widely regarded as a crisis that jeopardizes patient safety and public health.
“Each year more than 23,000 Americans die from bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics,” Brown said. “Antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs have been a victim of their own success. We have used these drugs so widely and for so long that the microbes they are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective. We need a comprehensive strategy to address antimicrobial resistance. That is why I am introducing the STAAR Act, which would revitalize efforts to combat super bugs.”
Once confined to hospitals, drug-resistant microbes—such as Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—are now striking down healthy, non-hospitalized citizens; young and old, adults and children. These infections are painful, difficult to treat, and have become a silent epidemic in communities and hospitals across the United States.
Brown’s legislation, the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act, would help strengthen the federal response to antimicrobial resistance by placing more of an emphasis on federal antimicrobial resistance surveillance, prevention and control, and research efforts.
In addition, the Act would strengthen coordination within both Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies as well as across other federal departments that are important to addressing antimicrobial resistance and enable opportunities to address this issue globally. By providing for a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to the antimicrobial resistance crisis, the STAAR Act represents a critical first step toward resolving what has become a major public health crisis.
Specifically, the STAAR Act would:
- Promote prevention through public health partnerships at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments;
- Track resistant bacteria by improving data collection and requiring reporting;
- Improve the use of antibiotics by educating health care facilities on appropriate antibiotic use;
- Enhance leadership and accountability in antibiotic resistance by reauthorizing a task force and coordinating agency efforts; and
- Support research by directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work with other agencies and experts to create a strategic plan to address the problem.
Joining Brown to support the STAAR Act was Molly Brudnick, a Shaker Heights senior who was recently afflicted by MRSA. Brudnick is a retired medical social worker who developed MRSA while in the hospital recovering from her second back surgery. After spending six weeks in a nursing home for IV antibiotics, and enduring three months of additional rehabilitation, Brudnick still requires therapy for her aching back, which is permanently disfigured from the super bug attack. Also joining Brown to raise awareness of this crisis was Dr. Robert Salata, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at University Hospitals.
The STAAR Act is just one of Brown’s many efforts to promote the health and wellness of Ohio’s citizens. In November 2013, the U.S. Congress passed the National Pediatric Research Network Act, which Brown introduced. Brown’s bipartisan legislation will create a more streamlined and efficient system for maximizing pediatric medical research, with an emphasis on rare pediatric diseases.