In 2017, the World Health Organization issued a dire warning over the rise of so-called “superbugs,” which are infections resistant to antibiotics that could pose a grave threat to human health. Many leading health systems have responded by taking a more cautious approach encouraging efforts to prevent overprescribing of antibiotics and only using antibiotics when appropriate.
This August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it will be taking steps to help tackle antibiotic resistance on a new front: promoting the development of new antibiotics.
While the details are somewhat complex, at its core, the plan revolves around increasing financial incentives for the development of new antibiotics – particularly those antibiotics used for patients in a hospital setting.
Many of the remarkable recent advances made in cancer drugs and medications to treat heart disease have been made possible due to the financial incentives in place to develop them.
Unfortunately, the same commercial viability for researching new antibiotics has just not been there in this country – or globally for that matter.
A number of reputable organizations – from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the World Health Organization have raised concern in recent years about our ability to develop novel antibiotic therapies to face the emerging superbug threat.
While this new incentive plan from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is far from perfect – and even has its fair share of skeptics – hopefully it will prove to be a step in the right direction.