House Panel Examines Drug Resistance, Health Care-Related Infections
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health heard testimony on the growing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant microbes and on the lack of development for new antibiotics to fight "superbugs," CQ HealthBeat reports.
Speaking on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Brad Spellberg, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA, said that nearly 100,000 U.S. residents die from health care-associated infections each year and that antibiotic-resistant microbes are spreading into areas outside of medical facilities.
Spellberg added that many current treatment methods would be "impossible to perform" without antibiotics. However, he said that the push to develop new drugs has waned and that it would be "lucky" if even two or three new drugs were approved in the next few years (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 6/9).
Robin Robinson, director of HHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testified that the federal government should offer financial incentives to encourage the development of new antibiotics. He noted that the current drug development process is "lengthy" and that new drugs are "still years away at best" (Steenhuysen, Reuters, 6/9).
Janet Woodcock, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said the agency has delayed guidance on what standards it uses to evaluate antibiotics, which has led to some confusion in the drug industry and delayed development.
Although it remains unclear when Congress will take action on the issue, some in attendance at the hearing said that multiple approaches are necessary to address the problem.Some witnesses expressed support for legislation that calls for the government to create a comprehensive research program and strategy to address the situation. The bill also would require increased collaboration among federal agencies (CQ HealthBeat, 6/9). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.