IDSA strongly supports the Reinvigorating Antibiotic and Diagnostic Innovation (READI) Act, H.R. 1840, introduced yesterday by Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), which would provide a new tax credit, modeled after the Orphan Drug tax credit, for new antibiotics that treat a serious or life threatening infection and address an unmet medical need and for new rapid diagnostic tests. “The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is making increasing numbers of infections difficult or impossible to treat, underscoring the urgent need for new antibiotics,” stated William Powderly, MD, IDSA President and Co-Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University in St. Louis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 2 million individuals in the U.S. are sickened by antibiotic resistant bacteria every year and at least 23,000 die. “Antibiotic resistance is threatening our ability to provide many types of medical care—including solid organ and bone marrow transplants, joint replacements, cancer chemotherapy, care of preterm infants, and care of deep combat wounds and burns in our military service men and women—all of which rely on the availability of safe and effective antibiotics,” stated Johan Bakken, IDSA Past President and an ID physician in Duluth, MN. “The READI Act will help spur the research and development of life-saving new antibiotics for our patients,” Bakken said.
While previous congressional action on antibiotics, including the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, took important steps forward, the antibiotic pipeline remains fragile. “Most pharmaceutical companies have retreated from antibiotic research and development because antibiotics are difficult and costly to develop and fail to provide a profit. They are typically inexpensive and taken for a short duration, unlike many drugs for chronic diseases. Further, we aim to limit antibiotics’ use, because overuse drives the development of resistance and renders them ineffective. This is a phenomenon unique to antimicrobial drugs,” explained Henry “Chip” Chambers, IDSA board member and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at San Francisco General Hospital. “The READI Act will provide a much needed incentive for companies to develop the new antibiotics that patients so desperately need.”
“Rapid diagnostic tests are equally essential,” Dr. Powderly stated. “Very sick patients with severe infections must be treated quickly, and rapid diagnostics help us determine whether an infection is caused by bacteria or a virus and what drugs might be most effective. Without rapid tests, we must often treat empirically—before we know exactly what type of infection a patient has—which can lead to antibiotic overuse,” he continued.
IDSA is extremely grateful to Representatives Paulsen and Thompson for their leadership on this important issue and looks forward to working closely with them to advance the READI Act.
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