Critical Legislation to Address Growing Threat of Antibiotic Resistance; Public Citizen Applauds HEAL Act

Feb. 13, 2015

Critical Legislation to Address Growing Threat of Antibiotic Resistance; Public Citizen Applauds HEAL Act

Statement of Vijay Das, Health Care Policy Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: Today, the Helping Effective Antibiotics Last (HEAL) Act (H.R. 931) was introduced by U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) This bill would protect Americans from emerging infectious diseases and address the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates (PDF) that more than two million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year and at least 23,000 die as a direct result.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health emergency. To effectively tackle this problem, we must develop new antibiotics that work and benefit patients. We cannot afford to lower safeguards to simply help companies approve antibiotics faster. That only would make the problem worse and harm patients.

The best way to deal with this threat is to conserve existing antibiotics and provide pharmaceutical companies with incentives to develop safe new treatments. The HEAL Act would help us reach this goal.

Unlike the ideas offered in the 21st Century Cures package or the PATH Act, the HEAL Act would protect patient safety in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process while boosting the development of proven and safe new antibiotics. Provisions found in the 21st Century Cures package and the PATH Act fail to address antibiotic resistance and would lower the FDA’s approval standards to approve new antibiotics more quickly.

The HEAL Act would approve antibiotics that have the greatest public health benefits and would monitor their use. The bill outlines an approval process that ensures antibiotics are both more effective and less harmful to patients.

Furthermore, the HEAL Act would complement President Barack Obama’s executive actions on the threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Public Citizen thanks Reps. DeLauro, Slaughter and Meng for their leadership and urges other members to support this important measure.

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