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US Launches National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistance

19 September 2014

US - The US government has launched a new strategy to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria with increased surveillance and faster tests.

A year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, issued a landmark report sounding the alarm on the top drug-resistant threats to human health.

The report ranked the threats from antibiotic resistance into categories of urgent, serious, and concerning.

The announcement from the White House of the President’s Executive Order and the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria is the administration’s response to what the CDC describes as “one of the most urgent health threats facing us today – antibiotic resistance”.

CDC added: “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria – germs that don’t respond to the drugs designed to kill them – threaten to return us to the time when simple infections were often fatal.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually cause a minimum of 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States.

And CDC said that detecting, preventing and controlling antibiotic resistance requires a coordinated effort.

To support the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, CDC said it is working to address the threat in these four areas:

  1. Slow the development of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections.
  2. Strengthen national one-health surveillance efforts to combat resistance.
  3. Advance development and use of rapid and innovative diagnostic tests for identification and characterization of resistant bacteria.
  4. Improve international collaboration and capacities for antibiotic resistance prevention, surveillance, control and antibiotic research and development.

These plans are part of CDC's request for $30 million for CDC's Detect and Protect Initiative and $14 million for the National Healthcare Safety Network to combat resistant bacteria.

CDC said that these strategies and the funds needed to implement them are a down-payment to improve the US’s ability to start tackling the biggest drug-resistant threats.

CDC directro Tom Fried
Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “Every day we don’t act to better protect antibiotics will make it harder and more expensive to address drug resistance in the future.

“Drug resistance can undermine both our ability to fight infectious diseases and much of modern medicine.

“Patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, dialysis for renal failure, and increasingly common treatments for diseases such as arthritis depend on antibiotics so common infectious complications can be treated effectively.”

He added: “We must be diligent stewards of antibiotics, protecting this precious resource in doctor’s offices, homes, and farms, so that they are available to help us, and our children, in the future.”

Long time campaigner on antibiotic resistance Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said: “Today’s report from the top scientific advisors in the country confirms what over 450 medical, scientific, and consumer groups who support my legislation and I have been shouting from the rooftops for a long time: the overuse of antibiotics on the farm clearly affects human health, and substantial changes in the use of antibiotics in agricultural settings are necessary in order to preserve this precious resource for human medicine.

“I appreciate PCAST’s recommendations for greater surveillance of antibiotic use in agriculture, and that the FDA and USDA work to collect more detailed data to show whether or not FDA's voluntary guidance will actually lead to a reduction in antibiotic use.

“However, I maintain that voluntarily asking industry to change labels is not enough to protect human health. Not only does it give industry two more years to begin complying, it leaves a loophole a mile wide for using antibiotics daily to prevent disease when they are clearly only meant for treatment. I call once again on Congress to take up my bill, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act to preserve eight critical classes of antibiotics for the treatment of disease."

Dr Ashley Peterson, US National Chicken Council vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs said: “Preserving antibiotics’ effectiveness, both in humans and animals, is a responsibility chicken producers take seriously.

"To that extent, we have supported FDA’s Guidances #209 and #213 that will phase out by 2016 the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals for growth enhancement. We also support FDA’s proposed Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that ensures that all antibiotics administered to food producing animals are only done so under the care and prescription of a licensed veterinarian.

“Two classes of antibiotics that FDA deems critically important to human medicine, especially for treating foodborne illness in humans—flouroquinolones and cephalosporins—have already been phased-out of chicken production for a number of years.

“We look forward to working with the new task force as we continue to implement these new FDA policies, especially as the work relates to defining metrics for success and conducting more research in the area of antibiotic resistance.”


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