- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2015

President Obama on Friday promoted a $1.2 billion plan to fight the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The initiative is aimed at slowing the rise of resistant bacteria, preventing the spread of infections, establishing new tests to identify resistant bacteria faster and to speed up research into new antibiotics and vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services and other arms of the federal government would have a role in the proposal.

CDC data show that drug-resistant bacteria are responsible for 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses each year in the U.S.

“Effective antibiotics are vital to our national security. They save the lives of service members wounded in battle. They prevent infections in one community from spreading far and wide. They’re also a critical defense against bio-terrorism. They are, quite simply, essential to the health of our people and people everywhere,” Mr. Obama said in a question-and-answer session with WebMD published Friday. “So we should do everything in our power to ensure that antibiotics remain effective.”

A key component of the administration’s plan is reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics, a key driver of drug resistance. The CDC estimates that as much as half of all antibiotic use in the U.S. is “unnecessary or inappropriate.”

The president’s plan aims to cut unnecessary antibiotic use dramatically by 2020.

“Over-prescribing is a serious problem. Using antibiotics when they aren’t needed is one of the main causes of antibiotic resistance. So we need to give doctors the information and guidance they need to make the right call in hard situations,” the president said.

“We’re going to provide real-time data about antibiotic resistance to doctors and hospitals nationwide, so they can monitor the rates of drug resistance in their area. We’re setting national goals for improving antibiotic use, and we’re asking doctors and hospitals to help us meet them. And we’re going to help health departments across the country achieve these goals,” he said.

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