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October 2009
Vol. 19 No. 10
Global ID
Is Europe Moving Ahead of the U.S. on Antimicrobial Resistance Policy Efforts?
New Reports Highlight Antibiotic Resistance, Ways to Spur Drug Development

Two recent European reports, reminiscent of IDSA’s 2004 “Bad Bugs, No Drugs” report,  describe the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance in Europe and highlight possible strategies, including incentives, to stimulate the development of new antibiotics. Both were part of an international conference sponsored by the European Union (EU) and held Sept. 17 in Stockholm.

The first report, drafted by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency, analyzes the growing gap between the resistance problem in the EU and the diminishing antibacterial pipeline. The report outlines the scope of the burden posed by drug resistance in Europe, where approximately 25,000 people die each year from just five infections: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, third-generation cephalosporin-resistant Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, and carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These five infections result in about 2.5 million extra hospital days and more than 900 million Euros (approximately $1.4 billion) in additional hospital costs, according to the report’s authors, who call for a European and global strategy to combat antibiotic resistance.

The other major report, from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSEPS), outlines potential policy options, including financial and other incentives to spur antibacterial drug and related diagnostic research and development. The analysis, which generated media coverage on the websites of CNN and TIME magazine, includes strategies such as direct research funding and tax incentives, intellectual property mechanisms and monetary prizes, and possible regulatory tools, among other possible ways to encourage the much needed research and development in this area.

IDSA is looking for opportunities to leverage the EU’s advances in this policy area to motivate greater U.S. action and already has called upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to commission a study similar to the LSEPS report that will analyze policy options in this country. In early November, EU and U.S. political leaders plan to meet to discuss these issues at a summit in Washington, D.C., where President Obama and the Swedish prime minister (Sweden currently holds the EU presidency) are expected to agree to establish a joint transatlantic task force on antimicrobial resistance. IDSA will continue to monitor these discussions and weigh in as appropriate. For more information about the Society’s efforts to address antibiotic resistance, see IDSA’s website.
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