Industry NewsPerspective

STAAR Act introduced to Congress to combat antimicrobial resistance

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) has reintroduced the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act, urging Congress to address the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance and the scarcity of new antimicrobials.

“My bill takes a common-sense approach aimed at better understanding and monitoring the cause and spread of antimicrobial resistant infections, improving antibiotic development and ultimately helping people who need and rely on antibiotics,” Matheson said in a press release. “Antimicrobial resistance is often caused by the overuse of antibiotics. My bill addresses this problem by calling for data collection on antibiotic use as well as research to combat so-called ‘superbugs.’”

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) 

Rep. Jim Matheson

The STAAR Act would allow the federal government to combat antimicrobial resistance by reauthorizing the Antimicrobial Resistance Task Force; building upon existing efforts by the NIH and CDC for research and prevention of resistance; and developing and testing quality measures on antimicrobial use.

The IDSA led a group of more than 20 organizations composed of physicians, pharmacists, dentists, health care epidemiologists, infection prevention and control professionals, patients and public health experts that voiced support for the STAAR Act.

“IDSA has long called for a multipronged strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance,” IDSA President David A. Relman, MD, said in the press release. “The STAAR Act includes many of the steps needed to ensure that our federal response to this public health crisis is coordinated and robust. We look forward to working with Rep. Matheson and other leaders in Congress and the administration to enact this important legislation.”

David A. Relman, MD 

David A. Relman

In 2012, Congress recognized that antimicrobial resistance and the lack of new antimicrobials was a significant problem by adopting the FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), which provides incentives to develop new antimicrobials. The STAAR Act would complement FDASIA by addressing the need to combat the development and spread of resistant infections.

The IDSA launched the 10 x ’20 Initiative in 2010, which called for 10 new systemic antibiotics to be developed by 2020. In a report published in April, the IDSA reported that only one antibiotic has been developed thus far, and there were few promising agents in the pipeline.

“It is critical that Congress protect its investment in the development of new antimicrobials by enacting the STAAR Act, which will strengthen the federal response to antimicrobial resistance through enhanced leadership, surveillance, research and data collection,” Henry Chambers, MD, chair of IDSA’s Antimicrobial Resistance Committee, said in the press release. “Importantly, the STAAR Act will help ensure that new drugs do not immediately become obsolete by improving antimicrobial stewardship efforts to preserve the effectiveness of these lifesaving medications for patients who need them.”


James M. Hughes

  • Measures in the STAAR Act are critical to ongoing efforts to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance. This multifaceted problem requires a comprehensive strategic response from clinical, public health, animal health, academic, and industry sectors. The recently passed FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) contains measures designed to reinvigorate the antimicrobial drug development pipeline. The STARR Act complements the FDASIA and contains measures designed to address many other elements of this complex problem, including the need for a single focal point for federal leadership to improve coordination of efforts of multiple federal agencies, reauthorization of the federal Antimicrobial Resistance Task Force, and creation of a multidisciplinary Public Health Advisory Board with experts from multiple sectors outside government. The Act calls for regular updates to and development of benchmarks for assessing progress on implementation of the Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance, stresses the need for development and implementation of evidence-based strategies, emphasizes the importance of ongoing monitoring and evaluation of programs, and stresses the need for development and implementation of a comprehensive Antimicrobial Resistance Strategic Research Plan to address critical knowledge gaps. Other elements emphasize the need to strengthen surveillance of antimicrobial usage and resistance in patients, animals, plants, and the environment, the need for development of point of care diagnostics, the importance of new vaccines for priority pathogens, the critical role played by antimicrobial stewardship programs, and the need for quality measures for appropriate antimicrobial use.

    • James M. Hughes, MD
    • Infectious Disease News Editorial Board member
  • Disclosures: Hughes is a past-president of the IDSA.