Combating AMR requires more funding, says HHS secretary

The World AMR Congress took place last week in Washington, D.C., with 600 delegates, including from the biotechnology sector. During the event, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra urged increased funding for combating AMR, or antimicrobial resistance.

Without new medicines and antimicrobials, antibiotic-resistant infections—which claimed the lives of more than 1.2 million in 2019—will only grow worse.

World AMR Congress highlights policy to fix broken antimicrobials market

Lawmakers have proposed several bills that could help the industry develop new antibiotics and antimicrobials.

The PASTEUR Act, for example, would establish a “Netflix-style” subscription model for hospitals and governments to acquire new medicines. It’s one example of legislation that might help solve the broken antibiotic and antimicrobial business model. Passing the PASTEUR Act is a priority of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

The DISARM Act, as another example, would improve Medicare compensation for hospitals that utilize sophisticated antibiotics responsibly and, as a result, assist offer some essential financial security to support more research and development. These kinds of policy changes will assist in ensuring that patients continue to have access to the antibiotics they require.

According to BIO’s Director of Infectious Disease Policy Emily Wheeler, while Secretary Becerra did not expressly support the PASTEUR Act, he did signal government support for combating AMR by including PASTEUR-like wording in President Biden’s FY23 budget proposal.

According to Secretary Becerra, speaking about the rise in AMR-related hospitalizations and fatalities during the pandemic, AMR is “the second punch that gets the communities in America,” reported Axios. “The second punch gets those who are least prepared, the most vulnerable, and the most underserved.”

Why we need to address AMR

While public health is “having a moment,” as BIO’s Emily Wheeler said, we need to seize the moment to invest in public health infrastructure and turn addressing AMR into a movement. We can do this by raising awareness, boosting the infectious disease workforce, and implementing much-needed policies to stabilize and sustain the broken antimicrobial market.

At the World AMR Congress, BIO leaders warned about the danger posed by AMR and the pressing need for action.

Following the event, BIO and British academics and industry partners met behind closed doors to address legal, financial, and other concerns.

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