Lauri A. Hicks, DO, captain, US Public Health Service, director, Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, medical director, Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses how public health institutions can work alongside private pharmaceutical companies to prevent antibiotic resistance.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“I think it’s important to recognize that preventing antibiotic resistance really requires a multifaceted approach, and we have to approach this with improvements in how we’re using antibiotics, recognizing that they’re a precious, limited resource. We also have to do what we can to encourage [the] development of new antibiotics, in addition [to] developing new diagnostics that will better support our antibiotic selection and help us make decisions about when antibiotics are needed and when they’re not needed. We have to do a better job at preventing infections in the first place; there are lots of opportunities there, [not only] related to infection control in hospitals, but also [to] vaccine development, for example.
[The problem] is definitely not going to be solved by any one of these facets alone, and that’s one important point that I want to make. We have to work with all these different segments with private industry, to make sure that we have new tools in our toolkit to treat patients.
There is a perception that antibiotic stewardship may actually be a disincentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs, but we think about it in the way that, actually pharmaceutical companies don’t want antibiotics to be administered in a way that would cause patient harm. We’re actually very interested in working with private industry, as well, to make sure that our messages are complementary, and that when a new drug is introduced, it’s [done] in a way that is appropriate and that patients are getting the appropriate treatment.
I have to say that we have received quite a bit of outreach from pharmaceutical companies that are very interested in making sure that messages are getting out there along with messages about their antibiotics, [and] the importance of using them appropriately. So I don’t think that they have to be perceived as direct opposition, they really should be going hand in hand. [When developing] messages around improving antibiotic use when a new drug is developed, we want to make sure that it’s used appropriately [and] the drug companies want to make sure that their drug is actually effective. If that drug is used inappropriately, and then is no longer effective because it’s been misused, then that’s not of benefit to them or to public health. We can think about this as an ongoing effort that requires the collaboration of many stakeholders, [in] private industry, federal government, [and] state health departments. It really is not going to be a problem that we solve by just focusing on improving antibiotic use.”
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