Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives late Thursday would provide companies with incentives, including a tax credit, to spur the development of new antibiotics and rapid diagnostic tests.
The Reinvigorating Antibiotic and Diagnostic Innovation (READI) Act was introduced by U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and has been supported by dozens of medical organizations and drug companies as an urgently needed effort to address the global threat of antimicrobial resistance.
According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the READI Act’s tax credit is modeled after the one offered under the Orphan Drug Act for treatments of rare diseases or conditions. According to the IDSA, the tax credit would provide relief for companies developing new antibiotics that treat a serious or life-threatening infection and address an unmet medical need, as well as new rapid diagnostics.
The IDSA said it welcomed the READI Act and would work closely with Paulsen and Thompson to advance the legislation. The organization was one of 41 signees of a letter addressed to Paulsen and Thompson supporting the READI Act.
“The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is making increasing numbers of infections difficult or impossible to treat, underscoring the urgent need for new antibiotics,” William Powderly, MD, IDSA president and co-director of the division of infectious diseases at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a statement. “Rapid diagnostic tests are equally essential. Without rapid tests, we must often treat empirically — before we know exactly what type of infection a patient has — which can lead to antibiotic overuse.”
According to the CDC, at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, resulting in about 23,000 deaths.
Johan S. Bakken
“Antibiotic resistance is threatening our ability to provide many types of medical care — including solid organ and bone marrow transplants, joint replacements, cancer chemotherapy, care of preterm infants, and care of deep combat wounds and burns in our military service men and women — all of which rely on the availability of safe and effective antibiotics,” Johan S. Bakken, MD, PhD, FACP, FIDSA, past president of IDSA and infectious disease physician in Duluth, Minnesota, said in a statement.
Henry F. "Chip" Chambers
Despite previous congressional actions such as the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, the IDSA said the antibiotic pipeline is still "fragile.” Most pharmaceutical companies withdrew from research and development because antibiotics are expensive to develop and do not bring in large profits, according to Henry F. “Chip” Chambers, MD, IDSA board member and chief of the division of infectious diseases at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
“They are typically inexpensive and taken for a short duration, unlike many drugs for chronic diseases,” he said in a statement. “Further, we aim to limit antibiotics’ use, because overuse drives the development of resistance and renders them ineffective. This is a phenomenon unique to antimicrobial drugs. The READI Act will provide a much-needed incentive for companies to develop the new antibiotics that patients so desperately need.” – by Stephanie Viguers and Gerard Gallagher
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