- Congress should consider offering economic incentives for the development of new antibiotic drugs that can combat the threat of antibiotic resistance, states a letter recently released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
The letter, signed by over 50 organizations, urges Congress to include antibiotic development incentives as part of their reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA).
As the letter points out, new antibiotic development has dwindled significantly as most pharmaceutical companies have left the market. The significant danger of antibiotic resistance makes the development of new drugs essential for public health and medical emergency preparedness.
“More and more Americans are contracting serious and life-threatening infections that are difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, resulting in longer hospital stays, complications of medical treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy, and deaths,” the letter states.
The letter cites conservative estimates from the CDC that at least 23,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic resistance, while another 2 million become seriously ill. Additionally, the CDC estimates that antibiotic resistance costs the US healthcare system $20 billion each year.
Antibiotic resistance is also a threat to national security. The letter asserts that between 2004 and 2009, over 3300 American soldiers became seriously ill from a single resistant pathogen.
“Resistant pathogens complicate our soldiers’ combat wounds, increasing the risk of limb loss and death, and compromise our military’s combat readiness and effectiveness.”
Greater financial incentives are necessary to prompt antibiotic development and improve emergency preparedness.
“Including antimicrobial research and development incentives in PAHPA reauthorization will be critical to ensure that our nation is prepared to respond to the threat [antibiotic resistance] poses to our health and national security,” the letter concludes.