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Friday, October 21, 2011

Blumenthal bill seeks to promote new antibiotics to fight resistant bacteria

From an edited press release:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., this week introduced a bill to spur development of new antibiotics to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
While antibiotics are widely used by doctors to treat common infections, an increasing number of strains of bacterial infections are immune to existing antibiotics. The bill will provide incentives to increase the commercial value of innovative antibiotic drugs and streamline the regulatory process so that pioneering infectious disease products can reach patients.
Antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise, causing tens of thousands of deaths each year — disproportionately affecting children and the elderly — and leading to $26 billion in extra costs annually to the U.S. health care system.
“Superbugs or mutant germs resistant to present antibiotics are a growing public health horror — now targeted through this bipartisan proposal to speed creation and approval of new drugs against them,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
“The threat of these new resistant bacterial infections, particularly threatening to children, seniors and our returning troops, requires innovative antibiotics. Incentives for research and development and fast-track FDA review are needed to stop these bacteria and infections from spreading.”
“Without putting any federal dollars at stake, our bill provides meaningful market incentives to encourage development of new antibiotics that will help save lives and reduce health care costs,” Corker said.
“By strengthening this segment of the market that currently has only a handful of new drugs in the pipeline, we can help ensure Americans at home and our troops abroad have access to treatments capable of combating these deadly infections.”
Sharon Ladin, director of the Pew Health Group’s Antibiotics and Innovation Project, said, “The bill creates incentives to spur antibiotic innovation and brings us one step closer to delivering new, life-saving medicines to the growing number of Americans who urgently need them.”
Antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” have been on the rise for the last decade, with the rate of antibiotic-resistant staph infections approaching 50 percent. Currently, antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections are responsible for more than 17,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, the statement said.
The issue increasingly affects troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as many of them have been exposed to a new, highly resistant and contagious strain of Acinetobacter bacteria. Eighty-nine percent of infections caused by mutant strains of Acinetobacter are resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics and 15 percent are resistant to all forms of treatment.
The proposal has been endorsed by 39 groups, including the National Military Vets Alliance, American Medical Association, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Children’s National Medical Center.

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