Members of both branches brought it back to gain support and passage of a bill aimed at greater development of antibiotics.
Last week, Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN) and Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-GA) and Scott Peters (D-CA), reintroduced the Pasteur Act in Congress. The bill was initially introduced in Congress by Bennet and Young in September of 2020. Bennet and Young along with Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Ferguson reintroduced the bill in June 2021.
“The PASTEUR Act brings together the public and private sectors to address these drug development market failures, increase public health preparedness, and help usher in a new era of antibiotic development,” said Ferguson in a statement. “This essential legislation will also improve appropriate antibiotic use across the healthcare system while enhancing and safeguarding new antibiotic development. Simply put, we must act now to keep research and development from falling behind.”
The prospective bill looks to create solutions to encourage innovative drug development targeting the most threatening infections, improve the appropriate use of antibiotics, and ensure domestic availability of antibiotics when needed.
One of the key components of the bill is the subscription model. The Pasteur Act would establish an innovative payment contract where the federal government invests in highly novel antibiotics and antifungals through installment payments in exchange for free access to developers’ drugs in government programs once available.
To understand how the subscription model works check out this recent Contagion interview.
After the bill’s reintroduction last week, 5 national organizations: the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Partnership to Fight Infectious Disease, and The Pew Charitable Trusts, issued a statement on the topic.
“Antimicrobial resistance is not a partisan issue. It is an increasingly challenging public health emergency that reverberates far beyond just health care settings. Every 15 minutes, a person in the United States dies from an infection resistant to treatment with existing antimicrobial drugs. This means that since PASTEUR’s last introduction on June 16, 2021, more than 64,000 Americans have died because they did not have adequate medications to treat their infections,” part of the statement read.
Nearly 2 months ago, 237 organizations signed their support of the Pasteur Act. The letter was sent to the chairs and ranking members of Energy & Commerce, Ways and Means, HELP and the PAPHA leads. In the letter, the organizations called on Congress to do their part in addressing this permeating health care issue that does not discriminate. “…we urge you to include the Pasteur Act in any moving legislative vehicle this year, including the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA),” they wrote
IDSA was one of a few key stakeholders that testified before Congress in recent days. Amanda Jezek, senior vice president of public policy and government relations at IDSA spoke at the congressional meeting last week.
In an interview with Contagion at the ID Week conference last October, Jezek said the Pasteur Act had 65 bipartisan cosponsors in Congress. In addition, as part of trying to emphasize the bill, members of the IDSA Board members who were in Washington during the conference visited with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra as well as different members of Congress.
When talking to staff of republican and democratic congressional members there is a bipartisan appeal to the Pasteur Act according to Jezek. “Everywhere we go, people say, ‘yes we need action on [antimicrobial resistance] AMR,’” Jezek stated. “We are excited to keep building the momentum and get this bill across the finish line and send it to the President’s desk.”
Read how Gunnar Esiason, a cystic fibrosis(CF) patient advocate, talks about how his CF therapy has greatly improved his quality of life, but he also remains concerned about a future respiratory infection that could be drug-resistant to all available antibiotics, and may have serious health consequences.