California Constituents Calling for Action on Antimicrobial Resistance
The letter below will be sent to the entire California delegation urging greater attention and supportive policy action to address the increasing challenges of antimicrobial resistance, particularly in the form of the
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Dear Member of Congress and Staff:
We, the undersigned, write to you out of continued concern for the growing threat of drug-resistant infections here in California. Our hope is to join forces with the largest congressional delegation in the U.S. to help secure legislative solutions that address the increasing threat of fungal, bacterial and other infections that are resistant to current treatments before they become a greater national health emergency.
Antimicrobial resistant infections (AMR) and fungal infections are increasing global health threats. In California, the fungal infection Valley Fever has reached epidemic levels and continues to increase. Valley Fever is caused by a fungal spore that naturally grows in the soil in certain regions of California and the Southwestern United States. Recent data shows that Valley Fever spores are being found in new areas, increasing the risk of exposure to all who live in, or visit those areas. Valley Fever spores can travel up to 70 miles or more, putting many others at risk for infection. Those working in occupations associated with soil disturbance in areas where Valley Fever is found have even greater risk.
The impact of Valley Fever is substantial; the 2022 Indicators of Climate Change in California identified Valley Fever as one of the 5 health risks to the state and added language regarding wildfires increasing the spread of Valley Fever. The World Health Organization published its first fungal priority pathogens list in 2022 as well and identified Valley Fever as 1 of only three endemic fungal pathogens on the list. A 2019 study estimated the lifetime cost burden for cases diagnosed in California to be $700 million dollars for 2017. Since the study was published California has incurred an additional $3.5 billion dollars in Valley Fever related healthcare costs. Every year Californians do not have an FDA approved drug to combat Valley Fever the costs increase.
Bacterial infections also negatively impact the health of Valley Fever patients and other Californians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), today, more than 2.8 million drug-resistant infections occur in the U.S. each year and more than 35,000 people die as a result. Most California residents have experienced the negative impacts that are caused by infectious diseases like COVID-19. Physicians, researchers, community organizations, and state legislators have come together to request national support of our effort to prevent fungal infections like Valley Fever from becoming the next pandemic. Taken together, bacterial and fungal infections are a threat to all, especially organ transplant recipients, those undergoing cancer treatment, preterm infants, immunocompromised patients and other vulnerable patients with chronic health conditions.
We, the undersigned, urge you to act immediately to provide a solution to a problem that affects all Californians. Your constituents, especially patients and providers are in desperate need of new novel antimicrobial medicines. Specifically, financial incentives are needed to cure patients with life-threatening bacterial and fungal infections.
Renewed investments in fungal and bacterial disease research are needed so leading experts and institutions in California can advance their work toward finding a cure. We also need next-generation diagnostics that can accurately identify infections more quickly. We believe these steps can create healthy futures for all Californians, but progress cannot be made without supportive policies.
We respectfully ask for your help in passing important bipartisan pieces of legislation to address our looming national antimicrobial resistance emergency. The PASTEUR Act (HR 2940 and S 1355) creates market incentives for the commercialization of new and novel antifungal and antibiotic drugs to treat resistant infections. This bill represents a critical first step in addressing the AMR crisis.
For those interested in joining or finding out more about our efforts, please contact the Valley Fever Institute at 661.331.0080 or RobPurdie@KernMedical.com.