The Obama administration laid out a national strategy today to stem the rising tide of antibiotic resistance, which threatens human health worldwide. The strategy provides an opportunity to bring together the resources of the federal government, agency-by-agency, to address this mounting crisis.
Allan Coukell, senior director of drugs and medical devices at The Pew Charitable Trusts released the following statement:
“The need is urgent. Antibiotic resistance has grown with increasing use of these drugs. Meanwhile, development of new drugs has not kept pace. We commend the administration’s strategy and encourage them to address key steps in three critical areas: greater surveillance of infectious organisms, patterns of resistance, and antibiotic use; vigilant stewardship of existing drugs in humans and animals; and efforts to spur the development of new antibiotics.”
“Resistance to antibiotics costs tens of thousands of lives each year, with too many patients finding themselves with no options to fight life-threatening infections. Congress is already considering and should pass legislation that could accelerate access to new drugs for patients who have no treatment options left. The administration must also take additional steps to support research and foster collaboration between industry and academia to break through scientific barriers.
“The national strategy correctly recommends improved tracking of antibiotic use and resistance in human medicine and agriculture. The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services report some of this information, but as the Government Accountability Office has noted, ‘[T]hese data lack crucial details necessary to examine trends.’
“The administration has already taken steps to phase out these drugs for growth promotion in livestock. It is essential now to ensure that antibiotic use in animals is really reduced and that these important drugs are administered only in medically appropriate ways under the supervision of a veterinarian.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. More information is available at www.pewtrusts.org.