November 1, 2007


Support Builds for STAAR Act


Bad Bugs logoSupport is building among medical societies, public health organizations, and members of Congress for an IDSA-backed bill that would lay a strong foundation for tackling the growing crisis of antimicrobial resistance.

The federal Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act (S. 2313/H.R. 3697) would foster innovative approaches to surveillance, prevention, control, and research. The bill calls for development of a strategic research plan, creation of an office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate efforts within HHS and with other U.S. departments, and strengthening national sentinel surveillance and clinical research.

The STAAR Act now has 14 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, and a Senate companion bill, initially introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), now includes Sens. Charles Schumer (N-NY) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) as co-sponsors. In addition, the American Public Health Association, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) have endorsed it.

“Infectious diseases physicians are challenged literally every day by drug-resistant infections. We can’t solve this problem in isolation. We need federal policymakers to step up to the plate,” said IDSA President Don Poretz, MD, FIDSA. “The ultimate goal should be an effective, interlocking federal, state, and local framework to respond to drug-resistant and other serious infections. IDSA believes the strategies in the STAAR Act provide a good starting point.”

IDSA is calling for additional measures beyond the STAAR Act, such as:

  • significantly increasing funding for National Institutes of Health-sponsored research on antimicrobial resistance and health care-associated infections

  • strengthening funding streams for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health agencies and laboratories, and hospitals and other health care facilities engaged in surveillance, research, prevention, and control

  • spurring the development of new antibiotics, vaccines, and diagnostics to treat, prevent, and detect serious and life-threatening infections

  • restricting antimicrobial drugs from being used for growth promotion in food-producing animals, and reducing use of antimicrobials in agriculture and the environment in general

In a move applauded by IDSA, Sen. Schumer also has introduced legislation (S. 2351) that provides a 50 percent tax credit for research and development of new antibiotics, antivirals, vaccines, biological products, and diagnostics for use against drug-resistant and other serious and life-threatening infections for which the product pipeline is slim. The bill specifically mentions methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella species, Acinetobacter, and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. Sen. Schumer is an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee, which makes him well placed to move the tax credits. See IDSA's letter of support.

In other news, IDSA and SHEA have worked with Sen. Durbin, a member of the Senate leadership, to strengthen a bill he has introduced (S. 2278) that aims to reduce community-acquired and hospital-associated infections. “While we support the spirit of this bill, we want to work with Congress to make sure any strategies that are adopted are based on science and actually work at the local hospital and community level,” said Dr. Poretz.

The Durbin bill would establish best-practice guidelines for infection control plans, require hospital reporting of HAIs through the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, require feasibility studies of pay-for-performance standards linked to the reduction of community and hospital infections, fund and prioritize research in this area, and establish an interagency working group. Durbin's bill already has five additional co-sponsors, including presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL).

Other bills that IDSA supports include:

  • The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (S. 549/H.R. 963), which would phase out the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion in food animals. See IDSA's letter of support.

  • The Access to Medicare Data Act (S. 1507), which would provide researchers with controlled access to Medicare prescription drug data. Such data could enhance the study of how and why resistance emerges. See IDSA's letter of support.

Find out more about the STAAR Act. http://www.idsociety.org/staaract.htm

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