CLEVELAND, OH — With more than 23,000 Americans dying from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Tom Frieden visited the Cleveland Clinic today to discuss efforts to combat antibiotic resistance and fight “super bugs.”
“We have made far too many advances in modern medicine to lose the fight to superbugs,” Brown said. “The STAAR Act will help to preserve our existing arsenal of drugs and ensure that the new drugs being developed to fight superbugs do not become obsolete.”
More than two million Americans will be affected by antibiotic-resistant infections each year. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, also known as CRE or the “nightmare bacteria”, have become resistant to most available antibiotics. Infections with these germs are very difficult to treat, and can be deadly—one report cites they contribute to death in up to 50 percent of infected patients.
“Antibiotic resistance is one of the most important health threats of our time. Failing to act could return us to a time when simple infections killed,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “It is not too late; we can delay, and even in some cases reverse, the spread of antibiotic resistance.”
During a press conference with Dr. Frieden, Brown announced the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act, legislation that would strengthen the federal response to antibiotic resistance by promoting prevention and control, tracking drug-resistant bacteria, and supporting enhanced research efforts, as well as improving the development, use, and stewardship of antibiotics. It would also establish an Office of Antimicrobial Resistance (OAR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide greater leadership, coordination, and accountability between the entities involved in combating drug resistance. By providing for a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to the antibiotic 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 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.
Immediately following the press conference, Sen. Brown and Dr. Frieden participated in a symposium along with medical leaders from the Cleveland Clinic.