Reps Peters & Levin, Sens Bennet & Young, and Others Reintroduce Bipartisan PASTEUR Act to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance
April 27, 2023
Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-50), alongside U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN), and Reps Mike Levin (CA-49), Drew Ferguson (GA-3), and Jake LaTurner (KS-2), reintroduced the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act to encourage innovative drug development targeting the most threatening infections, improve the appropriate use of antibiotics, and ensure domestic availability of antibiotics when needed.
“Antimicrobial resistance poses a growing and significant threat to Americans’ health,” said Rep. Peters. “The PASTEUR Act will help us develop better antibiotics to counter resistant infections and help doctors ensure these drugs are used responsibly to stop the emergence of new superbugs. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must do everything in our power to prevent the next public health crisis.”
Last Congress, Rep. Peters introduced the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act with Rep. Ami Bera (CA-07) to strengthen the federal response to antimicrobial resistance through increased data collection, monitoring, prevention, and control.
“Each year in the United States, at least 2.8 million people become infected with pathogens that are resistant to treatment and for which advanced antimicrobials are needed. Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 pandemic made clear, our country needs stronger resources to develop those antimicrobials and prevent another global pandemic,” said Rep. Levin. “Our PASTEUR ACT empowers the Department of Health and Human Services to seek expertise on the development of antimicrobials and devise a plan to make them widely available. I thank Sen. Bennet and Rep. Ferguson for leading this bicameral, bipartisan legislation and look forward to it moving through the legislative process.”
“Right now, we don’t have the tools to address the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance – and infectious disease experts are warning us that it will only get worse,” said Sen. Bennet. “The bipartisan PASTEUR Act is the strongest bill ever written to strengthen antibiotic development and use. It will fix our market failures, expand the pipeline for next generation antibiotics, and save lives. We can’t sit on our hands as this public health crisis arrives – we have to act now.”
“Americans understand that we must take every reasonable and responsible measure to prevent future public health crises,” said Sen. Young “Antimicrobial resistance has become a growing crisis in recent years. Market failures have resulted in a lack of needed research and development in this field which is a threat to public health. Our bill would incentivize the development of new life-saving antibiotics and focus on educating health care providers on how to avoid overuse or misuse of these life-saving medications in order to slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.”
“Antibiotics make modern medicine possible and the U.S. is at risk of losing these critical drugs. Antibiotic resistant infections are becoming more commonplace, and Congress must take action so that the foundation of modern medicine doesn’t crumble,” said Ferguson. “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. 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 COVID-19 pandemic reminded us how crucial it is for our nation to continue investing in healthcare research to prevent future public health emergencies,” said Rep. LaTurner. “America can't afford to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to the threat of antimicrobial resistance. That's why I'm proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan PASTEUR Act to bolster new antibiotic development and help medical professionals prevent the overuse of lifesaving drugs.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and at least 35,000 people die as a result. In March 2015, the U.S. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria directed federal agencies to accelerate a coordinated, full government response to antibiotic resistance and take action to expand the ability of our healthcare system to prevent, identify, and respond to the infection pandemic threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. Part of this plan was to increase and incent development of innovative antimicrobial drugs to treat resistant infections. Because of severe market failures in the healthcare system, many of the innovative antibiotic companies doing this work have filed for bankruptcy and stopped producing their critical drugs completely.
The PASTEUR Act would address this market failure and increase public health preparedness by keeping novel antibiotics on the market and improving appropriate use across the health care system. While current contracts between the government and drug makers base payment on volume, the PASTEUR Act would establish a subscription-style model which would offer antibiotic developers an upfront payment in exchange for access to their antibiotics, encouraging innovation and ensuring our health care system is prepared to treat resistant infections.
Statements of Support:
“Millions will continue to die from resistant bacteria because we are out of treatment options. Antibiotics aren't working any more for most people who contract a superbug. The science is extraordinary, it's the business model that's broken. We desperately need a new way to pay for these drugs - antibiotics, antifungals, and phage therapy. The Pasteur Act is that rare, bipartisan idea that solves an incredible problem for an affordable price,” said Professor Kevin Outterson, Boston University.
“Antibiotics play a vital role in modern medicine, and we know that preserving access to these drugs is essential to any pandemic or public health emergency response. Yet the medicines that the U.S. relies on to treat serious infections have remained largely the same for nearly 40 years and are increasingly ineffective against quickly evolving bacteria. In 2023, the U.S. has already experienced several alarming antibiotic-resistant threats—and the emergence of new superbugs will continue and will only get worse. The bipartisan PASTEUR Act has the support of a diverse group of more than 230 public health and health care organizations, because it will help us fix the broken antibiotic drug pipeline and deliver important new therapies to physicians and the patients who need them. Reintroduction of the bill is an encouraging sign that policymakers remain committed to ensuring that lifesaving antibiotics are available when Americans need them most,” said David Hyun, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Antibiotic Resistance Project.
"The need for legislative solutions to address the public health challenges posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been mounting for quite some time now, and we applaud the sponsors of the PASTEUR Act for their leadership. This bill will make new novel antibiotics a reality for patients and providers and fortify our healthcare system for future generations. AMR impacts us all and protection against the increasing threats of infection is not a partisan issue. We encourage broad support and quick passage of the PASTEUR Act,” said Candace DeMatteis, Vice President of Policy, Partnership to Fight Infectious Disease.
"For decades, we have seen antimicrobial resistance (AMR) soar around the world, while the pipeline for new treatments slows to a trickle due to the broken ecosystem for antimicrobial innovation. The PASTEUR Act is an integral solution to addressing the global public health crisis of AMR. The bipartisan bill will help repair the foundational challenges of the antimicrobial marketplace and drive the development of new, innovative treatments for patients,” said Rachel King, Interim President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.
“Infectious diseases physicians see firsthand the devastating impact of antimicrobial-resistant infections on our patients. We urgently need novel antimicrobials and investments in antimicrobial stewardship to preserve the efficacy of these precious drugs and optimize patient outcomes. The PASTEUR Act will deliver the tools we need to protect modern medicine and strengthen our preparedness for future emergencies,” said Carlos del Rio, MD, FIDSA, President, Infectious Diseases Society of America; and Interim Dean, Emory University School of Medicine.
“For people living with cystic fibrosis, difficult-to-treat infections are an unfortunate but common occurrence, and the fear of not having enough treatment options is an all too familiar concern. There is an urgent need to pass the PASTEUR Act to help ensure availability of novel antibiotics, not only for the CF community today, but for patients everywhere who could face a public health crisis tomorrow if Congress refuses to take action now,” said Mary Dwight, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Patients with drug resistant diseases are defenseless without new treatments, many of us are fighting rare diseases and we desperately need the treatments supported by the PASTEUR Act. PASTEUR is a bill for patients, and without it, too many of us will not survive our fight and those that do are facing a reduced quality of life. The new treatments created through the PASTEUR Act could one day cure me and others fighting disease with limited or no treatment options. Until then, I wake up every day hoping the medications available do not fail me again,” said Rob Purdie, Cofounder, MyCARE (MyCology Advocacy, Research & Education).
Specifically, the PASTEUR Act would:
- Establish a subscription model to encourage innovative antimicrobial drug development aimed at treating drug-resistant infections. This model will be fully delinked, meaning that participating developers would not receive income, as a part of their subscription payments, based on volume or quantity of sales.
- Subscription contracts would contain terms and conditions including product availability to individuals on a government health insurance plan, supporting appropriate use, and completion of postmarketing studies. These contracts could be valued between $750 million and $3 billion.
- Build on existing frameworks to improve usage of the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network, the Emerging Infections Program, and other programs to collect and report on antibiotic use and resistance data.
- Include transition measures such as smaller subscription contracts to support novel antimicrobial drug developers that need a financial lifeline.
- Form a Committee on Critical Need Antimicrobials, consisting of representatives from federal agencies, doctors, patients, and outside experts, to develop and implement necessary guidance regarding infections of concern, and the favored characteristics of potential treatments.