The Obama administration today released an implementation plan for its Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) strategy, which it announced in September. Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts, provided the following statement:
"We applaud the administration for its continued focus on the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. An effective response requires three elements: the improved tracking of microbes and their patterns of resistance; greater stewardship in limiting the use of existing antibiotics to preserve their effectiveness in both humans and animals; and a renewed drive to bring innovative antibiotics to market safely and quickly.
"In the United States millions of people fall sick, and tens of thousands die, from drug-resistant infections every year as doctors have increasingly fewer treatment options. Adding to the problem, the pace of antibiotic approvals has slowed dramatically in recent decades.
"The administration’s plan includes focused efforts to boost basic scientific research, attract greater private investment, and facilitate the clinical trials of new antibiotics, all of which are required to support a robust antibiotics pipeline. Congressional leaders have already proposed—and should pass—legislation to accelerate the approval of new drugs for patients who run out of options.
"At the same time, we need to use existing antibiotics wisely; too often, they are prescribed unnecessarily. The administration put forward a rigorous plan to improve the stewardship of antibiotic use in hospitals and other medical facilities. To monitor the effectiveness of these guidelines, we encourage the White House to seek concrete measures for assessing and reducing inappropriate prescriptions.
"While we’re pleased with the action plan’s continued emphasis on tracking antibiotic use in human medicine, we urge the administration to make even greater progress in reducing the use of antibiotics. Fortunately, more and more companies are working with their suppliers to eliminate or sharply curtail the use of antibiotics in chickens, with fast-food giant McDonald’s and the retailer Costco among the most recent.
"This administration has taken important first steps towards phasing out the use of antibiotics to promote growth in livestock. We call now for a clear plan to review the safety of antibiotic use for disease prevention in food animals and establish systems to provide better and faster collection of data about antibiotic sales and use. These steps will help ensure that these life-saving medicines are used in the most judicious way in order to preserve their effectiveness for people and animals in the longer term."