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The Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) is presenting its annual leadership award to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in recognition of IDSA’s tireless advocacy efforts to engage Congress and federal agencies to address the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. The award was presented Sept. 14 at an APUA reception held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), in San Francisco.
“IDSA has been a vital partner in our work to preserve the power of lifesaving antibiotic drugs while encouraging the discovery of new antibiotics to tackle deadly infections,” said APUA president Stuart B. Levy, MD. “Resistant infections are a national security concern. They threaten the very foundation of our high-tech medical care system. Congress needs to pay more attention.”
One type of drug-resistant bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), alone infects more than 94,000 people and kills nearly 19,000 in the United States every year, more deaths than caused by emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide.
Martin Blaser, MD, FIDSA, a past president of IDSA, and Neil Fishman, MD, chair of IDSA’s Antimicrobial Resistance Work Group, are accepting the award for IDSA. “I am honored to accept this award on IDSA’s behalf, and I thank APUA for its partnership,” Blaser said. “Despite the progress we have made, lawmakers and federal agencies can do more to address this pressing problem. IDSA has provided leadership in forming a coalition with APUA and other national organizations to urge Congress to improve the nation’s approach to antibiotic resistance by passing the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act.”
The STAAR Act (H.R. 2400), which IDSA took a leading role in crafting, would help contain the spread of antimicrobial-resistant “bad bugs” through better coordination and funding of federal activities, stronger surveillance, prevention and control efforts, and research. The act also would enhance the collection of critical information on the use of antibiotics in humans and animals.
IDSA also published the “Bad Bugs, No Drugs” report to help address the issue of replenishing the antibacterial drug pipeline. In addition, IDSA has worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clarify for industry the agency’s requirements for antibiotic development and approval.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Medical Association (AMA) all consider antibiotic resistance among the top five public health threats. Many health care provider organizations are finding antibiotic-resistant infections to be a growing burden on their budgets. Hospitalizations related to MRSA cost nearly double those for non-MRSA hospital stays: $14,000 compared with $7,600, according to one study. Patients infected with MRSA also spent more than double the amount of time in the hospital—10.0 days versus 4.6 days— than non-MRSA patients.
Within the health care reform debate, it is clear there is room for savings through more effective treatment of bacterial infections. “APUA and IDSA share the common goals of ensuring that our nation’s antibacterial drug pipeline is filled with innovative, new products and that existing, approved drugs are used appropriately,” said Blaser, noting that up to 50 percent of antimicrobial use is inappropriate, adding considerably to the nation’s health care costs. “Unfortunately, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but by working together, we can continue to advance these vitally important public health goals.”