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August-September 2013
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CDC Report Puts Spotlight on Threat of Antibiotic Resistance

This month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report entitled, “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013” in which they recommend four core actions to stop the spread of resistance:  preventing infections, tracking resistant germs, improving use of antibiotics (stewardship), and finding new drugs and diagnostics. These actions are closely aligned with the goals of IDSA, and IDSA has been working with the CDC, congressional champions and coalition partners to build upon the momentum generated by this report and spur meaningful policy actions.

During a congressional briefing co-hosted by IDSA, CDC and the Pew Charitable Trusts to highlight this report for lawmakers, IDSA President David Relman spoke about the need for Congress to combat antibiotic resistance by enacting the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act, which would improve federal leadership, surveillance, data collection and research; and providing incentives to spur antibiotic research and development, including the Limited Population Antibacterial Drug (LPAD) approval mechanism, an expedited pathway to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for antibiotics that treat serious or life-threatening infections for which there are currently few or no treatment options.  He also noted that the budgets for CDC and other agencies addressing these issues are at the lowest level in a decade.  Increased funding is needed for advanced molecular detection, diagnostics, and antibiotic stewardship.  Diagnostic tools play a very important role in addressing resistance in multiple ways, including guiding appropriate antibiotic use and helping to identify patients for antibiotic clinical trials.

The CDC report increases awareness of the threat that antibiotic resistance poses and encourages immediate action to address the potentially catastrophic threat. The CDC estimates in its report that in the United States, more than 2 million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result. The number of Clostridium difficile infections is estimated to be at least one-quarter million with at least 14,000 deaths. (Although the report notes that C. difficile infections are not yet significantly resistant to the drugs used to treat them, most cases are directly related to antibiotic use.)  CDC’s estimates are based on conservative assumptions and are likely minimum estimates.  IDSA continues to advocate for improved surveillance and data collection activities to more accurately capture the significant burden of resistant infections. 

For the first time, the CDC prioritized bacteria in the report into one of three categories: urgent, serious, and concerning. Those listed as urgent are: Clostridium difficile (C diff.), carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

The report generated significant media coverage, much of which included input and quotes from IDSA members. Finally estimating the problem sends a "very powerful message," said IDSA Board member Helen Boucher, MD, FIDSA, in an Associated Press article.

IDSA will continue advocating for the Society’s policy priorities to address antibiotic resistance, incentivize the development of new antimicrobial drugs and diagnostics, and promote their appropriate use. You can help us now by taking a minute or two to contact your congressional representatives and urge them to cosponsor the STAAR Act. 
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