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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health today.1 Alarmingly, over time bacteria change and find ways to resist the effects of antibiotics. The antimicrobial-resistant pathogens survive, grow, and spread their resistance. The more an antibiotic is used, the more pressure bacteria have to develop resistance, becoming “superbugs” that can’t be treated.2

Despite the urgent need for therapies to combat AMR, the development of anti-infective therapies is hindered by limited market potential and challenging economic hurdles. Because of steep development costs, a high risk of failure, and long lead times, it is difficult to realize a return on investment in research and development.3

Why are superbugs concerning?

AMR is a silent threat, but it is already here and needs urgent attention. If AMR continues to rise unchecked, formerly minor infections could become life-threatening, serious infections could become superbugs that are impossible to treat, and many routine medical procedures could become too risky to perform.1,2

The data is shocking. Recent research has found:

  • AMR is a leading cause of death around the world.4
  • Drug-resistant bacterial infections killed more than 1.2 million people and were associated with 4.95 million deaths worldwide in 2019.5
  • A continued rise in AMR could take 10 million lives globally each year by 2050 — more than the current number of deaths each year from cancer.2
  • The economic cost of AMR is significant. In addition to causing death and disability, prolonged illness results in longer hospital stays, the need for more expensive medicines, and financial challenges for both patients and health care providers.1

Congress can help combat this threat

Federal policies can support a robust pipeline of novel antimicrobials to stop the spread of these superbugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prevention is the most foundational and successful tool to combat evolving bacteria.6

The government needs to incentivize researchers to develop new antimicrobial treatments for infections that have an unmet medical need, anticipated clinical need, or drug resistance. Proposals like the PASTEUR Act could be the best line of defense against the emerging AMR threat.

The PASTEUR Act would increase resources for antibiotic stewardship programs and establish a subscription-style model for the government to pay upfront for access to antimicrobials.5 More specifically, the bill would increase resources to fight AMR by:

  • Forming a committee of relevant federal agencies, doctors, patients, and outside experts to develop and implement necessary guidance for addressing infections of concern.
  • Encouraging the development of innovative drugs for treating drug-resistant infections.
  • Building on existing frameworks to collect and report on data regarding antibiotic use and resistance.

It is critical that Congress pass the PASTEUR Act to support the development of innovative antibiotics targeting the most threatening infections, increase the appropriate use of antibiotics, and ensure that effective antibiotics are available in the United States when needed.

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