Friday, September 19, 2014

White House declares war on superbugs; bugs responsible for 23,000 deaths annually in U.S.

The Obama Administration is fighting against superbugs that have developed a resistance to antibiotics, Monte Morin reports for the Los Angeles Times. "In an executive order signed Thursday, President Obama identified drug-resistant bacteria as a threat to national security and the economy and directed the creation of a special task force that will be co-chaired by the secretaries of Defense, Agriculture and Health and Human Services."

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are responsible for two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morin writes. "Officials estimate that drug-resistant bacteria have cost the nation $20 billion annually in direct healthcare costs and another $35 billion in lost productivity." (CDC photo)

The task force "will oversee public, private and academic efforts to minimize the spread of superbugs by promoting the proper use of antibiotics; the acceleration of scientific research into new antibacterial drugs and novel therapies; and the creation of new diagnostic technologies that will identify drug-resistant bacteria," Morin writes.

"The president's action calls on federal agencies, including Veterans Affairs, to review their current use of antibiotics and to formulate new policies for their employment," Morin writes. "It also directs the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate use of 'medically important antibiotics' for growth-promotion purposes in poultry and livestock. The plan also urges the improvement of international collaborative efforts for bacterial surveillance and control, as well as for the research and development of new drugs." (Read more)

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