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article imageSenator takes on antibiotic resistant organisms Special

By Tim Sandle     Apr 16, 2014 in Science
Washington - With so-called “super bugs” on the rise, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced a bill aimed at slowing down the rate of antibiotic resistant microorganisms.
Senator Brown has introduced the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act. This is legislation aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance. In presenting the Act, Brown called for greater Federal attention to the growth of antibiotic-resistant infections, which affect more than two million Americans each year.
Brown is aiming for the STAAR Act to provide an opportunity to bring multiple federal and non-governmental partners together to protect the public health from these drug-resistant bugs.
Senator Brown contacted Digital Journal to explain more. In explaining the basis to the Act, Brown said: “Each year more than 23,000 Americans die from bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics.”
Antimicrobial resistance describes the ability of a microorganism to resist the action of antimicrobial drugs. In some instances some microorganisms are naturally resistant to particular antimicrobial agents; in other instances, the genes of non-disease-causing bacteria can be transferred to pathogenic bacteria, leading to patterns of clinically significant antibiotic resistance. Since the 1990s antibiotic resistance has been of concern for scientists and health policy makers.
Looking at the reasons for this, Brown explained that: “Antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs have been a victim of their own success. We have used these drugs so widely and for so long that the microbes they are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective.”
Considering this in the context of his Act, Brown added: “We need a comprehensive strategy to address antimicrobial resistance. That is why I am introducing the STAAR Act, which would revitalize efforts to combat super bugs.”
Emerging antimicrobial resistance and the growing shortage of effective antibiotic drugs is widely regarded as a crisis that jeopardizes patient safety and public health. Once confined to hospitals, drug-resistant microbes, such as multi-drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are now striking down healthy, non-hospitalized citizens. This includes both the young and old, adults and children. These infections are painful, difficult to treat, and have become a silent epidemic in communities and hospitals across the U.S. (according to CDC).
Brown hopes that the STAAR Act will help strengthen the federal response to antimicrobial resistance by placing more of an emphasis on federal antimicrobial resistance surveillance, prevention and control, and research efforts.
In addition the Senator hopes that the Act will strengthen coordination within both Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies as well as across other federal departments that are important to addressing antimicrobial resistance and enable opportunities to address this issue globally.
By providing for a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to the antimicrobial resistance crisis, it would seem that the STAAR Act represents a critical first step toward resolving what has become a major public health crisis.
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