Antibiotics save millions of lives every year. Today, however, the emergence of drug resistance in bacteria is undermining the effectiveness of current antibiotics and our ability to treat and prevent disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Antibiotic resistance also limits our ability to perform a range of modern medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and organ transplants. That’s why fighting antibiotic resistance is a national priority.
Over the past year, the Administration has taken important steps to address the threat of antibiotic resistance. In September 2014, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)’s report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance. Furthermore, the President’s FY 2016 Budget released earlier this year proposed nearly doubling the amount of Federal funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion.
Combating and preventing antibiotic resistance, however, will be a long-term effort. That’s why, today, the Administration is releasing the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (NAP). The NAP outlines a whole-of-government approach over the next five years targeted at addressing this threat:
The judicious use of antibiotics in health care and agriculture settings is essential to combating the rise in antibiotic resistance. We can help slow the emergence of resistant bacteria by being smarter about prescribing practices across all human and animal health care settings, and by continuing to eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals.
A “One-Health” approach to disease surveillance will improve detection and control of antibiotic resistance by integrating data from multiple monitoring networks, and by providing high-quality information, such as detailed genomic data, necessary to tracking resistant bacteria in diverse settings in a timely fashion.
The development of rapid “point-of-need” diagnostic tests could significantly reduce unnecessary antibiotic use by allowing health care providers to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections, and identify bacterial drug susceptibilities during a single health care visit making it easier for providers to recommend appropriate, targeted treatment.
New antibiotics and alternative treatments for both humans and animals are critical to maintaining our capacity to treat and prevent disease. This involves supporting and streamlining the drug development process, as well as increasing the number of candidate drugs at all stages of the development pipeline. Additionally, boosting basic research to better understand the ecology of antibiotic resistance will help us develop effective mitigation strategies.
Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that requires global solutions. The United States will engage with foreign ministries and institutions to strengthen national and international capacities to detect, monitor, analyze, and report antibiotic resistance; provide resources and incentives to spur the development of therapeutics and diagnostics for use in humans and animals; and strengthen regional networks and global partnerships that help prevent and control the emergence and spread of resistance.
The NAP is a comprehensive effort that will require the coordinated and complementary efforts of individuals and groups around the world, including public- and private-sector partners, health care providers, health care leaders, veterinarians, agriculture industry leaders, manufacturers, policymakers, and patients. Working together, we can turn the tide against the rise in antibiotic resistance and make the world a healthier and safer place for the next generation.