WASHINGTON, DC — Following the President’s executive order and a new report published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the Senate to pass his bill that would combat antibiotic resistance and fight “super bugs.” More than 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year and today’s report highlights the need to pass Brown’s bill.
“Today’s report underscores the urgent need for aggressive, comprehensive action,” Brown said. “Antibiotics have become 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 the drugs, making them less effective. That’s why we must pass the STAAR Act – to help preserve our existing arsenal of antibiotic-resistant drugs and ensure that the new drugs being developed to fight superbugs do not become obsolete. We must work together to address this threat.”
Today’s PCAST report offers recommendations to the Federal government to help strengthen and improve the U.S. response to antibiotic resistance and manage the rise of superbugs. Among other recommendation, today’s report identifies several steps the country must take to address antibiotic resistance, including improved surveillance and enhanced stewardship of antibiotics. Brown’s STAAR Act would provide a way forward on several of these recommendations.
More than two million Americans are 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.
Earlier this month, Brown and the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Tom Frieden visited the Cleveland Clinic to discuss 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. The bill 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.