White House plan calls for aggressive measures against superbugs

The White House has released a new plan to combat antibiotic-resistant infections such as the recent outbreak linked to contaminated duodenoscopes.

The 60-page plan lays out efforts to fight antibiotic resistance over the next five years through significant investment and sweeping policy reforms across public health agencies. Specific goals contained in the report include investment in new diagnostics and antibiotics, improving existing antibiotic use and reducing the most dangerous superbug infection rates during the five-year period. President Barack Obama's administration requested $1.2 billion dollars to combat antibiotic resistance in January, FierceHealthcare previously reported, twice the current government investment.

The White House plan sets five broad goals:

  1. Strengthen data surveillance to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance
  2. Stem the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria
  3. Increase and accelerated research and development for new therapeutics and antibiotics
  4. Strengthen international cooperation on antibiotic resistance prevention
  5. Speed use and development of efficient, innovative testing procedures to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Under the plan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aims to cut Clostridium difficile infections by 50 percent; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus rates by at least half; hospital-acquired multidrug resistant Psuedomonas species infections by 35 percent; and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae infections by 60 percent. It also will require hospitals to develop programs with increased infection controls that include aggressive cleaning of equipment, surfaces and hands, and a reduction in antibiotic use for patients.

Specific benchmarks "help ... ensure that this isn't just an action plan that will sit on the shelf and collect dust," Amanda Jezek, vice president of public policy and government relations at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told Medscape.

The plan also recommends the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration work to reduce use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth in animals raised for food, although it did not set specific benchmarks.

Meanwhile, the top manufacturer of duodenoscopes has issued new cleaning instructions for the devices, according to Reuters. Last week, reports indicated problems with the appliance used to clean the scopes may be largely to blame for the outbreak.

To learn more:
- here's the plan (.pdf)
- read the Medscape article
- check out the Reuters article