Young proposes bipartisan, bicameral bill to fight antimicrobial resistance

To beat back a surge in resistant antibiotics, U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) on June 16 introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would establish a federal program to develop innovative antimicrobials — including antibiotics and antivirals — targeting the most challenging pathogens and highest-threat infections. 

“Americans understand — now more than ever — that we must take every reasonable and responsible measure to prevent future public health crises,” Sen. Young said on Wednesday. 

The rapid emergence of resistant antimicrobials has been primarily caused by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Young’s office, which noted that high rates of resistance against antibiotics frequently used to treat common infections have been observed worldwide.

To help fight this battle, Sen. Young cosponsored the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act of 2021, S. 2076, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), which aims to spur drug development, improve the appropriate use of antibiotics, and ensure domestic availability of such drugs, according to the summary. U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Drew Ferguson (R-GA) on June 16 introduced the companion bill, H.R. 3932, in their chamber.

“Antimicrobial resistance has become a growing crisis in recent years. Market failures have resulted in a lack of needed research and development in this field which is a threat to public health,” said Sen. Young. “That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce our Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act to incentivize development of new antibiotics.”

The bill “will focus on educating healthcare providers on how to avoid overuse or misuse of these life-saving medications in order to slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens,” Sen. Young added.

If enacted, S. 2076 would establish a subscription model to encourage antimicrobial drug development aimed at treating drug-resistant infections. The model will be fully delinked, meaning that participating developers would not receive income as a part of their subscription payments, according to the bill summary. 

The measure also would require that subscription contracts valuated between $750 million and $3 billion contain terms and conditions, including product availability to individuals on a government health insurance plan, supporting appropriate use and completion of post marketing studies. And the bill would include transition measures, such as smaller subscription contracts to support novel antimicrobial drug developers that need a financial lifeline, the summary says.

The legislation is supported by Dr. Amy Beth Kressel, professor of clinical medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine; David Hyun, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Antibiotic Resistance Project; Dr. Barbara Alexander, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America; Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X; Barrett Thornhill, executive director of the Antimicrobial Innovation Alliance; and Dame Sally Davies, United Kingdom Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance.