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June 2010
Policy and Advocacy
IDSA Urges Action on Antibiotic Development at Congressional Hearing

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, several IDSA members outlined the scope of the threat posed by antibiotic resistance and underscored the need to stimulate new antibiotic development. Brad Spellberg, MD, FIDSA, a member of IDSA’s Antimicrobial Availability Task Force (AATF), highlighted the Society’s 10 x ’20 initiative and the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act, as important components of a broad strategy to combat resistance and spur antibiotic development.

“We encounter multi-drug-resistant bacteria daily, every day on rounds,” Dr. Spellberg told a House of Representatives committee June 9. “Over a one-month period at my institution, we had 23 patients who were infected with extreme drug-resistant Acinetobacter that’s resistant to everything except one last ditch drug, colistin, which was abandoned in the ’60s because it’s so toxic. That’s all we have left. Twenty-three patients in one month for one bacterium—that’s the scope of the problem.”

Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), acknowledged that regulatory uncertainty about the data required for FDA approval presents a challenge for antimicrobial development and the need for new scientific methods to evaluate these drugs. FDA plans to publish additional guidance on these methods within the next six months, Dr. Woodcock told lawmakers.

AATF member John Bradley, MD, FIDSA, spoke at the hearing on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about the threat antibiotic resistance poses for pediatric patients; Barry Eisenstein, MD, FIDSA, an advisor to IDSA’s Research on Resistance Work Group, spoke on behalf of Cubist Pharmaceuticals.

Held before the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the hearing was the second in a series of three planned on drug resistance and antibiotic use and development, a sign of increasing momentum on these issues (see related IDSA News article).  A third hearing on the use of antibiotics in animals has been tentatively scheduled for July 15.  Earlier this month, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Physicians (ACP) joined a growing list (PDF) of more than 20 organizations endorsing IDSA’s 10 x ’20 initiative, which calls for a global commitment to develop 10 new antibiotics by 2020. 

Testimonies from the hearing witnesses are available online, in addition to video of the hearing.
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