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Oct. 1, 2020

PASTEUR Act Will Build Antibiotic Arsenal, Protect Existing Medicines

The Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) on Wednesday, will support the development of new antibiotics and promote appropriate use of existing ones, helping to limit the increase and spread of resistant infections. The bill reflects recommendations promoted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and other experts in the field of antibiotic resistance.

PASTEUR would establish an innovative way to pay for critically needed new antibiotics, delinked from the sales or use of those antibiotics with a subscription model providing federal payment to companies that develop antibiotics. Ensuring a predictable return on investment for new antibiotics that are critical for patient care and public health but must be used in a limited fashion to preserve their effectiveness, this approach could help overcome some of the unique challenges currently stymieing antibiotic development.

The bill takes additional steps to promote appropriate antibiotic use, including establishing a new grant program to support the implementation of antibiotic stewardship programs in hospitals and to help more hospitals report antibiotic use and resistance data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network. Considerable evidence has demonstrated the effectiveness of stewardship programs in improving patient outcomes, reducing inappropriate use of antibiotics and lowering health care costs. New funds will help hospitals strengthen their programs and launch additional evidence-based stewardship interventions, as well as report more data to CDC to improve our national understanding of antibiotic resistance.

According to CDC, at least 2.8 million people in the U.S. suffer from antibiotic resistance annually, and at least 35,000 die. Most large pharmaceutical companies have abandoned antibiotic research and development, and the small companies that remain are struggling to stay afloat. Increasing resistance and the dwindling antibiotic arsenal complicate many areas of medical care, including secondary bacterial infections in patients with COVID-19, and jeopardize our ability to safely provide cancer chemotherapy, transplants, and other surgeries. These factors underscore the urgency of solutions that include the PASTEUR Act. IDSA urges Congress to advance this important bipartisan legislation.

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