Healthcare Infection Prevention

IDSA strongly endorses federal antibiotic effort

Bill to create 'Office of Antimicrobial Resistance'

Clinicians have been traditionally skittish about the long arm of the law reaching into the realm of medicine, but no one is curbing their enthusiasm about the potential benefits of a proposed federal law targeting the serious problem of antibiotic resistance.

STAAR Act 'snapshot'

Introduced by Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Michael Ferguson (R-NJ) H.R. 3697 — the Strategies To Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act — would improve the nation's capacity to control antibiotic resistance by establishing a network of experts across the country to conduct regional monitoring of resistant organisms as they occur — a kind of "snapshot" to pick up on problems early. The network would collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on disease surveillance. In a second major activity of the network, researchers also would work with CDC and the National Institutes of Health to find ways to slow the development of resistance.

"We need to determine the best ways to keep approved antibiotics working longer," says Louis Rice, MD, chair of Infectious Disease Society of America's research on resistance workgroup. "Currently, very little research is focusing on this. The STAAR Act network provides the range of experts we need to study the complex field of drug resistance."

The STAAR Act also creates a board of infectious diseases, public health and veterinary experts to advise the federal government on reducing resistance, and an Office of Anti-microbial Resistance in the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate, help plan, and guide the government's response to resistance.

There are very few new drugs in the pipeline to replace the failing ones, because the pharmaceutical industry now finds developing new antibiotics less appealing than developing drugs for chronic conditions such as heart disease. "We are in danger of slipping backward to the era before antibiotics," adds Martin J. Blaser, MD, past president of IDSA. "The STAAR Act gets us back in the fight."

(Editor's note: Find a summary of the STAAR Act and other related information at www.idsociety.org/STAARAct.htm.)