IDSA Welcomes Reintroduction of STAAR Act in Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) says it applauds Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) for reintroducing the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act to provide urgently needed federal leadership to tackle this growing public health crisis.

IDSA has long raised the alarm about this urgent issue and urged the federal government to strengthen its response to antimicrobial resistance in policy recommendations published in 2011 (Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance: Policy Recommendations to Save Lives). The problem continues to worsen, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in its March 2013 Vital Signs report on the rise of a nightmare class of resistant bacteria that kills approximately half of patients infected.

Congress recognized the need to address antimicrobial resistance and the lack of new antimicrobial drugs by providing incentives to stimulate the development of new antimicrobials in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), which became law in 2012. The STAAR Act would complement FDASIA by enhancing efforts to combat the development of resistance and spread of resistant infections. 

It is critical that Congress protect its investment in the development of new antimicrobials by enacting the STAAR Act, which will strengthen the federal response to antimicrobial resistance through enhanced leadership, surveillance, research, and data collection, says Henry Chambers, MD, chair of IDSAs Antimicrobial Resistance Committee. Importantly, the STAAR Act will help ensure that new drugs do not immediately become obsolete by improving antimicrobial stewardship efforts to preserve the effectiveness of these lifesaving medications for patients who need them.

My bill takes a common sense approach aimed at better understanding and monitoring the cause and spread of antimicrobial resistant infections, improving antibiotic development and ultimately helping people who need and rely on antibiotics, Matheson says. Antimicrobial resistance is often caused by the overuse of antibiotics; my bill addresses this problem by calling for data collection on antibiotic use as well as research to combat so-called superbugs.

Specifically, the STAAR Act provides direction and authority for the federal government to combat antimicrobial resistance by:

- Reauthorizing the Antimicrobial Resistance Task Force, establishing an Advisory Board of outside experts and an Antimicrobial Resistance Office in the Department of Health and Human Services whose director will coordinate government efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance

- Building upon existing National Institutes of Health (NIH) efforts by creating an antimicrobial resistance strategic research plan and authorizing the Clinical Trials Network on Antibacterial Resistance

- Building upon CDCs programs by authorizing the Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance and Laboratory Network and additional efforts to enhance the national capacity to prevent the transmission of resistant infections and the development of resistance

- Expanding current efforts to collect antimicrobial resistance and use data

- Developing and testing quality measures on antimicrobial use

A IDSA-led group of more than 20 organizations representing physicians, pharmacists, dentists, health care epidemiologists, infection prevention and control professionals, patients, and public health experts also voiced support for the STAAR Act in a letter to Matheson today, applauding the lawmaker for reintroducing the legislation.

IDSA has long called for a multi-pronged strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance, says IDSA president David A. Relman, MD. The STAAR Act includes many of the steps needed to ensure that our federal response to this public health crisis is coordinated and robust. We look forward to working with Representative Matheson and other leaders in Congress and the administration to enact this important legislation.

In 2010, IDSA launched the 10 x 20 Initiative, calling for the development of 10 new systemic antibiotics by 2020. An IDSA policy report published in April 2013 found that only one such antibiotic has been developed to date, with few promising antimicrobial drugs in the development pipeline to treat the most serious, life-threatening infections.

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)