The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) congratulates the Obama Administration for its September 18 announced White House National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB). The strategy outlines bold steps to slow the public health threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria, including efforts to stimulate innovative research. Importantly, the Strategy will establish a new Task Force for Combatting Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria which is directed to submit an action plan to the President by February 2015. This elevated attention at the highest level of government is needed because in the United States alone, antibiotic resistant bacteria cause 2 million infections a year and 23,000 deaths.
Innovative research is needed to discover new, effective antibiotics and to ensure existing antibiotics are properly targeted. Research will lead to innovative diagnostics to improve detection and tracking of pathogens, new vaccines targeted to drug resistant organisms and new antibiotics in partnership with private industry. Cutting edge genetic sequencing technologies used at point of care can enhance surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, enabling rapid tracking of genetic signatures and ensure rapid, accurate diagnosis and appropriate use of antibiotics saving lives and reducing resistance resulting from inappropriate treatment. Because an estimated half of antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate, encouraging the development of rapid, point of care tests is critical to identifying and tailoring treatment of resistant bacteria and minimizing the use of broad spectrum antibiotics.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will play leading roles in the national response. The collaborative efforts of the these agencies will be extremely important to advance development and use of rapid diagnostic tests for identifying drug resistant infections. Enhanced regulatory processes and reduction in approval cycle time will be key. Reimbursement of new diagnostic tests will also be a major incentive for development of new diagnostics by the private sector. The recommended expansion of DNA sequencing capacity and collection of microbial genetic sequences in a centralized National Database of Resistant Pathogens will allow comparison of outbreak stains with the database collection, improving their control.
The emphasis on tracking resistance in humans, animals and food and promoting antibiotic stewardship across the food chain is vitally important, as well as minimizing antibiotic use for non-health purposes. The President’s Executive Order calls for work internationally, recognizing that efforts must be global to reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance and its spread.
The National Strategy articulates national goals, priorities and specific objectives that provide an overarching framework for federal investments to combat antimicrobial disease. It will be extremely important that new and adequate funding is provided to accomplish this comprehensive agenda. The ASM appreciates the new initiatives and is committed to working with federal agencies and Congress as this ambitious agenda to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance gets underway.