April 15, 2011 - ASM Comments on Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
Office of Antimicrobial Resistance
1600 Clifton Rd., NE.
Mailstop A–07, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Attn: Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan Docket No. CDC–2011–0002

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is pleased to comment on the draft Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2011, on behalf of the HHS Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance. The ASM has a long history of supporting initiatives aimed at finding solutions to antimicrobial resistance (AR), including additional research, efforts to improve optimal use of antimicrobial drugs, and development of new antimicrobial agents. The ASM consistently endorses better coordination of federal efforts to address antimicrobial resistance, as well as stronger government programs and increased funding for AR related surveillance, research, education, prevention, and control measures.

The ASM supports the updated Action Plan, which builds upon the initial 2001 plan developed to slow the alarming rise of pathogenic microorganisms resistant to therapeutic drugs. The Task Force is to be commended for identifying high priority strategies to ameliorate the very serious challenge of AR infections. The ASM supports the four focus areas identified in the 2011 revision: Surveillance, Prevention and Control, Research, and Product Development. We appreciate that in the past the Task Force has considered comments and recommendations from ASM and other experts, and we respectfully suggest an even greater, more formal role for ASM and those of other professional societies in future Task Force activities.

Antimicrobial resistance threatens public health worldwide, claiming excess lives and healthcare resources. Hospital-acquired AR infections kill 63,000 people in the United States each year. Available data indicate that AR infections in the United States cost about $20 billion a year in added healthcare costs, $35 million in related societal costs, and more than 8 million extra days of hospitalization. Familiar pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus and gonorrhea bacteria have steadily acquired resistance to greater numbers of drugs typically prescribed to treat these infections. Health officials are warning against the global spread of pathogens producing the New Delhi metallobeta-lactamase (NDM-1) enzyme, which destroys carbapenem antibiotics and renders the bacteria resistant to nearly all classes of antibacterial agents. To counter the AR crisis, the 2011 Action Plan correctly integrates traditional, proven measures like national surveillance systems with innovative approaches in basic, applied, and translational research that include genomics and bioinformatics.

The ASM agrees with the Action Plan’s multi-pronged strategy to strengthen all scientific and public health areas with potential to solve this highly complex problem. We agree with the Plan’s initiative to increase collaborations among national and international partners to execute its specific action items.

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the draft Action Plan and look forward to being of further assistance to the Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance.