Obama takes aim at antibiotic resistance

Guest post by Nathan Seppa

The Obama administration is offering a $20 million prize for the development of a rapid diagnostic test that can spot bacteria that are highly resistant to antimicrobial drugs. The move comes as part of a five-year plan unveiled September 18 to address the ongoing problem of antibiotic resistance.

In an executive order, the president set forth a strategy that calls for increased surveillance to track resistant strains of bacteria, the development of new drugs and an emphasis on prevention — in addition to the search for new diagnostics.The executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services, by the end of 2016, to “propose new regulations or other actions, as appropriate, that require hospitals and other inpatient healthcare delivery facilities to implement robust antibiotic stewardship programs” in line with guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stewardship programs aim to limit over-prescribing of antimicrobial drugs that contribute to resistance.

“This represents a major elevation of this issue,” said Eric Lander, who co-chairs the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Antibiotic resistance “is a problem that’s been brewing for decades,” he said in a September 18 press conference.

Read more about programs to limit the overprescribing of antibiotics in “Doctors enlisted to turn the tide on antibiotic resistance.”

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