This week, the U.S. Senate is continuing its work on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Act and as they do so, PFID urges them to recall that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is itself a public health and national security threat. PFID was pleased to submit comments to the committee on this important legislation.
According to the CDC, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in America every year; and every 15 minutes, a person in the United States dies from an infection that is resistant to treatment with existing antimicrobial drugs. AMR is growing at a rate which threatens to destroy our medical safety-net and poses risks for national security.
Drug-resistant infections can happen to anyone and our ability to prevent and treat these infections is hindered by a broken antimicrobial marketplace. Addressing these market failures is essential to protecting public health, and our national security.
Currently, antimicrobial innovation, especially for antibiotics, faces significant market disincentives. In addition, misuse and overuse of antibiotics is driving the development of widespread resistance. Our ability to prevent, treat and cure infections is critical to our ability to respond effectively to medical emergencies like pandemics, natural and man-made disasters, combat- and service-related injuries, and other pathogen exposures. If the current trends continue, the drugs we have right now will lose effectiveness and antibiotic-resistant infections will become dangerous and deadly for even routine procedures.
Unfortunately, AMR is outpacing the development of new antibiotics, as the World Health Organization warns that the current pipeline has just 27 new antibiotics in the clinical trial stage of development. Of those in trials, WHO warns that only six of antibiotics have the ability to overcome AMR.[i] We must act now to ensure that the United States has necessary antimicrobial drugs that are critical to the safety of all Americans. By relying on foreign nations to supply antimicrobials, we risk running out of safe and effective treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections. Fortunately, there is a solution before Congress today that would help us to fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs while continuing to prepare for the future.
The PASTEUR Act addresses the lack of sufficient incentives necessary to develop the antibiotics we need. Because of the significant lead times involved in drug discovery and development, those investments are critical now to assure we are protected and prepared in the future. Without effective measures in place, the growing threat of AMR is on the path to deteriorating national and global health and security. The PASTEUR Act must be a part of efforts to protect our national security and prepare for future pandemics.