CHICAGO - A new concern among doctors and hospitals is the growing number of bacteria strains that are resistant to typical antibiotics. Of even bigger concern is the few number of pharmaceutical companies investing in research to find new antibiotics to fight superbugs.
In 1990, there were nearly 20 pharmaceutical companies with large, active antibiotic research and development programs. Today only three large and a handful of smaller companies continue in these efforts, and in many ways, on a more limited basis.
Illinois Congressmen Peter Roskam and Danny Davis are working together to push through Congress their "DISARM Act," which encourages drug companies to invest in antibiotic research.
The legislation would change the payment and delivery systems that make it undesirable for companies to pursue new antibiotic treatments, the legislation will encourage a renewed interest in rebuilding the antibiotic arsenal.
Second, the legislation establishes a landmark study coordinating the efforts of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to identify obstacles to the antibiotics marketplace. The study will also produce recommendations to eliminate government red tape, improve financial incentives, coordinate research and development efforts, and comprehensively address the looming health crisis we face from a dried up antibiotic development pipeline.
Each year more than 2 million people suffer antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them die as a result. Studies put the cost of superbugs to the U.S. healthcare system at $20 billion per year, with another $35 billion in lost productivity.
The Roskam-Davis bill is backed by IDSA, as well as the Antimicrobial Innovation Alliance (AIA) and its member companies Achaogen, Astellas, AstraZeneca, Forest Labs, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co. and The Medicines Company.