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You can help combat the threat of antibiotic resistance

Author: Nicole Lurie, M.D., M.S.P.H., Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 9/18/2014 3:10:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures;

The threat of antibiotic resistance has the potential to significantly impact public health, and your personal health, so fighting antibiotic resistance is a public health and national security priority. Our nation needs new drugs to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections. At the same time, we need to use current (and future) antibiotics wisely to prevent or minimize resistance.

Over the summer, as part of the blog series called Combatting Antibiotic Resistance, we talked about ASPR’s strategies and programs to develop new drugs that combat antibiotic-resistant infections. In just four years, we've partnered with six companies to develop eight new products to combat antibiotic resistant infections.

Today the President introduced a national strategy on combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria and issued an executive order to federal departments to implement the National Strategy and respond to a report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report.

With these tools in hand, BARDA will be stepping up to add new drugs and medical products to your doctor’s toolkit. BARDA and the National Institutes of Health will co-sponsor a $20 million prize to facilitate the development of rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for healthcare providers to use to identify highly resistant bacterial infections. In the near future, HHS agencies will host a public meeting that will engage stakeholders to ensure that this competition focuses on the type of diagnostic most needed by the medical and public health communities for recognizing and treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

YouTube video plaver with image of medicine pill.

As we discussed in this summer’s blog series, using public-private partnerships is effective in developing new drugs and medical products, so we’ll continue to bring together the best experts, biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs and products to counter this threat. Success, however, depends on individuals, organizations and industry working together.

Individuals:

Each of us plays a critical role in helping combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. We need to be smart about when to use antibiotics and when not to. The FDA and CDC have great tips on using antibiotics.

FDA: Combating Antibiotic Resistance
CDC: Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

Organizations:

BARDA regularly engages strategic advisory boards and organizations working in the area of antibiotic resistance. These entities play a critical role in the publication of documents and strategies that help inform actions taken by the government to mitigate the threat of antibiotic resistance.

BARDA staff members attend industry conferences on drug development, public meetings and are members of the Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance and the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR). As mandated by Congress, every year BARDA engages with our industry and academic partners at BARDA Industry Day to discuss medical countermeasure (MCM) development.

The conference is a great opportunity for organizations working in the field to present information or to engage BARDA experts directly. If you want to tell us about your work in this area you can request a meeting today through www.MedicalCountermeasures.gov.

Industry:

BARDA's Broad Spectrum Antimicrobials Program supports development of novel antibacterial drugs to treat or prevent biological threats and the increasingly prevalent public health threat of antibiotic resistance.

By supporting development of new antibiotics, we can help decrease the impact that antibiotic resistance could have during a public health emergency. This is because antibiotic resistance has the potential to complicate standard health care treatment of infections during a natural disaster or pandemic.

BARDA’s core services, technical assistance and funding can be beneficial to biotech and pharmaceutical companies working on new antibiotics Americans will need in an emergency. If you have an antibacterial drug candidate in development to treat these life threatening drug resistant infections, consider engaging with BARDA through our TechWatch program prior to responding to our Broad Agency Announcement.

Image of child with a serious facial expression. Caption: Get smart. Know when antiobiotics work.

To meet the threat of antibiotic resistance, the government and private sector must work together. BARDA’s public-private partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have begun revitalizing the pipeline. But bacteria never stop evolving. Looking to the future, the antibiotic pipeline will need to be refreshed continually. Ongoing partnerships between government, industry and academia will be critical. In the meantime, the efforts and awareness of individual citizens can do much to slow the emergence of resistance and help us preserve the antibiotics we have.

Industry partners are encouraged to visit the BARDA BAA and request a TechWatch meeting.


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