The Pew Charitable Trusts sent a letter to Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on June 18 thanking them for introducing the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms (DISARM) Act of 2019. This legislation would help spur the development of urgently needed new antibiotics by changing the way Medicare reimburses hospitals for treating patients with bacterial infections. The new reimbursement policy would eliminate the incentive for hospitals to choose a lower-cost drug, removing price as a factor in a hospital’s decision to stock or use new, potentially more expensive antibiotics for patients who really need them. The legislation would also require hospitals that participate in the new reimbursement model to implement meaningful programs to promote the appropriate use of antibiotics.
The antibiotic market is broken. Even though the World Health Organization ranks antibiotic-resistant bacteria as one of the 10 most urgent global health threats of 2019, only 11 antibiotics in development could potentially treat the antibiotic-resistant pathogens the organization deems most dangerous. Developing the antibiotics we need will require a variety of economic incentives, and Pew applauds Sens. Casey and Isakson for this initial step, and their leadership and dedication to addressing the urgent public health threat of antibiotic resistance.