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The White House confirmed that it would release a plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
On March 27, 2015, the White House released a
detailing plans to tackle antibiotic resistance and announced plans to commit $1.2 billion of Federal funding to the cause. The plan lists goals to slow the growing problem of antibiotic resistance over the next five years, reduce the rates of the most deadly superbug infections, invest in new diagnostic tools and antibiotic drugs, and improve the use of antibiotics among patients.
The plan touches on the growing importance of regulating the antibiotics that are given to the livestock raised for human consumption, also known as food animals. Many antibiotics that are used in humans to combat bacterial infections are also used in animals for nontherapeutic uses, including growth promotion. In December 2013, FDA announced that they would be taking steps to limit the use of antibiotics in food animals that were deemed crucial to human medicine. However, the plan recommends that FDA and the Department of Agriculture “take further steps to curtail the use of medically important classes of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals raised for human consumption,” according to Reuters.
Under the plan, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) aims to reduce the rates of the most deadly and widespread infections, hospitals will be required to implement programs to increase infection controls, including increased sanitation and reduced antibiotic use. Doctors will be required to report prescription patterns for antibiotics, especially for nonbacterial infections. The CDC will also be asked to double its screening of multidrug resistant tuberculosis carriers from other countries, moving from 500,000 screenings to one million in five years.
Reuters also reports that the government hopes to increase two elements crucial in the fight against superbugs: to ensure two new antibiotics are available for patients, and to improve prescribing methods through the use of a diagnostic tool to help doctors determine whether a patient has a bacterial or viral infection. Few new antibiotics have been developed recently, however, FDA recently approved one designed for drug-resistant bacteria, Avycaz (ceftazidime-avibactam), specifically for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections and for the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections when used in combination with metronidazole. In January 2015, NovoBiotic, Northeastern University, and the University of Bonn announced the discovery of a new antibiotic that may prove strong in the battle to kill superbugs. With the recent outbreaks in California linked to a contaminated medical scope, the White House’s plan may help to eliminate, or at least reduce, antibiotic-resistant superbug infections.