The Pew Charitable Trusts sent a letter to Representatives Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX) on Aug. 1 thanking them for introducing the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms (DISARM) Act of 2019 in the House. It was previously introduced in the Senate on June 4 by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). This bicameral 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 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. Development of new antibiotics will require a variety of economic incentives, and Pew applauds Reps. Davis and Marchant for their efforts to address the urgent public health threat of antibiotic resistance.