Obama administration releases first major long-term 'superbug' response plan
- The Obama administration on Friday released the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (NAP), the first-ever long-term and government-wide plan to fight the spread of superbugs and antibiotic resistance.
- NAP was created in response to an Executive Order issued by President Obama last fall that addressed the recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) on how to fight the rise of antibiotic resistance. The five-year plan aims to potentially control the spread of these bugs by 2020.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 23,000 people die from superbug infection every year, and that antibiotic-resistant strains cause 2 million illnesses annually. Scientists from around the world have warned that superbugs could become one of the major global killers barring major actions.
The ambitious plan is split into five major parts: slowing the emergence and spread of resistant infections; strengthening so-called 'One-Health' surveillance efforts; advancing the development and use of superbug diagnostics; accelerating R&D in this space; and strengthening global collaborations to fight antibiotic resistance. The effort would also involve monitoring and scrutinizing the use of antibiotics in livestock.
This will require a lot of money and coordination, to put it lightly. And the administration seems to be aware of the scope of the problem—President Obama doubled funding requests for combating superbugs to $1.2 billion in his FY 2016 budget proposal. And one major bill working its way through Congress, the 21st Centuries Cure initiative, includes provisions for encouraging and boosting antibiotic R&D.
However, some critics say that the plan actually doesn't go far enough, particularly its proposals for controlling livestock antibiotics.