Casey, Isakson Introduce Legislation to Fight Drug-Resistant Infections

Casey, Isakson Introduce Legislation to Fight Drug-Resistant Infections

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced legislation this week to help advance research and new treatments for drug-resistant infections.  

The Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms Act of 2019, or DISARM Act of 2019 for short, S.1712, aims to strengthen the antimicrobial research and development pipeline and provide access to more effective treatment for the more than 2 million Americans who are infected with drug-resistant infections each year.

“The increase of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a major public health issue that leads to countless preventable deaths and is costing the U.S. health care systems billions of dollars,” said Casey. “The DISARM Act would strengthen the pipeline that brings effective medication to the patient bedside to help save the lives of the 23,000 Americans who die each year from drug-resistant infections. I urge my colleagues to support this critical bill.”

“Antibiotic- and antifungal-resistant infections are on the rise, and our researchers, physicians, hospitals and other health care providers need every opportunity to advance research and therapies for Americans,” said Isakson. “I’ve been proud to support legislation that accelerates the approval process for new antibiotics, but we need to do more to ensure there is a market for breakthrough innovations once they are developed. The DISARM Act would encourage development of new therapies and directly address the challenge of drug-resistant infections in hospitals, and I hope it will move swiftly through Congress to help more Americans.” 

The legislation would allow Medicare to offer an add-on payment to inpatient hospitals that use a qualifying DISARM antibiotic to treat a serious or life-threatening infection. Qualifying hospitals must participate in a specified Centers for Disease Control antibiotic stewardship program in order to be eligible for a DISARM add-on payment. The measure has garnered strong support from the medical community.

“The DISARM Act is essential and timely,” said Cynthia L. Sears, MD, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Patients desperately need new antibiotics to treat serious or life-threatening infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and without new incentives like the DISARM Act, the antibiotic pipeline will continue to crumble.”

“The need for the DISARM Act has never been greater as antibiotic resistance threatens to undo decades of medical progress and the few small companies remaining in the antibiotics market struggle to stay in business,” said James M. Hughes, MD, professor emeritus of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “This important legislation can help drive optimal antibiotic use and stabilize the antibiotic market for innovators and investors.”

“By requiring antibiotic stewardship programs and providing an opportunity for companies who develop urgently needed new antibiotics to earn a fair and reasonable return on their investments, the DISARM Act can both stimulate antibiotic research and development and promote appropriate antibiotic use to help curb the development of antibiotic resistance,” said Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE, professor of medicine and epidemiology, and chief of the division of infectious diseases at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The full text of the DISARM Act of 2019 can be found here.

The DISARM Act was first introduced by Casey and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in 2018. 

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