White House wants $1.2B to fight antibiotic resistance

President Barack Obama will ask Congress to double federal funding for fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the Washington Post reports.

Obama will include the request for the additional $1.2 billion next week as part of his annual budget request. The administration intends to use the additional funds to monitor superbugs, develop diagnostic tools and work to safeguard against the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria within healthcare settings, according to the article.

Of the requested funding, about $650 million would go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to fund development of diagnostics and drugs to combat the infections, according to the White House. The administration cited the recent discovery of teixobactin, an antibiotic that cured a superbug form of Staphylococcus aureus in lab trials as a reason for the funding. The development and testing of the drug was largely financed by the NIH, according to the article.

If the current rate of antibiotic resistance persists, it could drastically increase the danger posed by the routine procedures such as organ transplants and knee replacements, and leave high-risk hospital and nursing home patients vulnerable to serious infections.

Discoveries like teixobactin, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the newspaper, demonstrate that the government must be heavily involved in antibiotic development due to the lack of economic incentives in such research for pharmaceutical companies.

The budget request also includes nearly $300 million to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fight antibiotic overprescription and monitor drug-resistant infection outbreaks, along with $47 million to help the Food and Drug Administration evaluate new drugs.

A December report from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance and commissioned by the British government projected that failure to combat superbugs could lead to 10 million deaths a year and annual costs of $100 trillion by 2050, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the article