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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Cures Act Pushes New Antibiotic Development, Drug Stewardship

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

While the Cancer Moonshot Initiative drew most of the coverage today with the presidential signing of the 21st Century Cures Act, provisions of the sweeping legislation also call for antibiotic innovation and stewardship.

Elements in the Cures Act will speed the development of new antibiotics, improve tracking of drug resistant bacteria and support the national push for antibiotic stewardship, says Lynne Batshon, director of policy and practice at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA.)

“There is agreement now that we are at a crisis level with the problem of antibiotic resistance,” she tells Hospital Infection Control & Prevention. “We believe this bill represents another layer of commitment from the United States. Policy drives change. We think this will help provide additional foundations to ensure that antibiotic stewardship programs and other forces that are needed in order to drive changes in prescribing practices [are in place] to stem the tide of resistance.”

The antibiotic provisions in the Cures Act, which bundles numerous healthcare improvements in a single bill, is a separate action than the ongoing discussions by the CMS to require antibiotic stewardship programs as a condition of participation in Medicare.

A final ruling on that is expected to be issued in the near future. Antibiotic resistance is a national and global challenge that has enjoyed bipartisan reports, but SHEA hopes the CMS rule will be finalized before the transition of power to an administration less friendly toward regulation.

“We are hopeful that CMS is able to finalize that rule as quickly as possible.” Batshon says. "In SHEA’s comments in the docket we urge CMS right up front to finalize the rule by the end of the year.”

For more on this story see the January 2017 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Gary Evans has written about infectious diseases, occupational health, medical ethics and a variety of other healthcare issues for more than 25 years. His writing has been honored with five awards for interpretative and analytical reporting by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.