The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) commends and supports your efforts to authorize and provide funding for the Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance, which delineates comprehensive and coordinated efforts by federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and others, to address this issue of steadily increasing clinical and public health urgency. Infections caused by resistant pathogens result in morbidity and mortality from treatment failures and increased health care costs as newer, more expensive antibiotics are needed to treat common infections. As resistance spreads, we may encounter infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics at all. We greatly appreciate your leadership in introducing HR 1771, the Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention Act of 2001, which authorizes new funding for priority action items in the Plan.
We understand that you will be introducing an amendment to the FY 2002 appropriations bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies, which will allocate an additional $5 million to help fund components of the Action Plan that are within the jurisdiction of the FDA, and that this funding will be taken from the funding increase recommended by the House Appropriations Committee, giving the FDA the flexibility to determine the source of the offset within its budget. While the ASM is concerned about the strains on the overall budget for the FDA, which has a daunting array of scientific evaluation and regulatory enforcement responsibilities, we also realize the spending constraints under which Congress is operating and the difficult funding decisions that must be made with the limited discretionary resources available. We, therefore, are supportive of this amendment, but we urge you and your colleagues to work with the Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance to determine the resources needed to implement the Action Plan recommendations and to find new funding sources for these important public health activities. Significant new funding will be needed to fully implement the Action Plan which calls for strengthening surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals and food products, professional and public education to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, and research directed toward the development of new antimicrobial compounds, vaccines and other prevention measures.
We look forward to working with you in this effort and applaud your leadership on this critical public health issue.