Florida TaxWatch Economic Commentary
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Can Invade Taxpayers' Wallets Too
What is Being Done
Getting a handle on ARB infections centers on several strategies. As with any communicable disease, prevention is key - becoming even more critical in the defense against ARB. Prevention efforts include handwashing, immunization, safe-food preparation, and stringent infection control practice in healthcare settings. In addition, providers need to be careful stewards of this lifesaving resource while educating patients on risks. In an effort to provide education, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched educational campaigns for hospitals, physicians, and patients, and coalitions have formed around the issue.12,13
Surveillance and development of new testing protocols to track ARB and to identify new threats are also key components of control. The CDC tracks ARB infections in healthcare settings, community acquired infections, and reported food-borne illnesses. Likewise, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System is a collaborative effort between state and local health departments and several federal agencies (including CDC) to track the types and sources of ARB infections.14 As risk factors and pathways are identified, interventions that break the chain of infection can be implemented.15
Antibiotic resistance is evolution and while it can be slowed, no amount of stewardship will stop the arms race. Unfortunately, many pharmaceutical companies have discontinued antibiotic research because projected profits from new antibiotics are inherently small as these therapies are likely to be used as a last resort for a limited number of people. The number of antibiotics brought to market has precipitously decreased from 29 approvals during the 1980s to just 9 during the 2000s.16 Fortunately, government funding for clinical development of antibiotics has emerged in both in the United States and in the European Union.17However, policy makers still need to puzzle out how profits will be shared for these public-private partnerships.
Antibiotics have changed the face of healthcare – reducing mortality and improving the quality of life for millions of people worldwide. However, the overuse of these powerful tools of intervention has led to antibiotic resistance that now threatens the future of our health and costs taxpayers, businesses, and the healthcare system millions each year in treatment expenses and lost productivity. Policymakers, patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare facility administrators must work together to improve antibiotic use and implement strategies to decrease the development of resistance. Furthermore, research supporting the development of new antibiotics must be encouraged via the development of well-designed public-private partnerships.
12 CDC (2014). Mission Critical.
13 Antibiotic Resistance Coalition (2017).
14 NARMS (2016).
15 CDC (2014). Mission Critical.
16 Pew Charitable Trusts (2016). A scientific roadmap for antibiotic discovery.
17 Eichberg, M. J. (2015). Public funding of clinical-stage antibiotic development in the United States and European Union. Health Security, 13(3), 156–165.
Economic Commentary written by
Allison Wiman, R.N. M.P.H., Research Analyst
Robert Weissert, Executive VP & Counsel to the President & CEO
Chris Barry, Director of Publications
David Mann, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Florida TaxWatch
Senator George LeMieux, Advisory Board Chairman, TaxWatch Center for Competitive Florida
Dominic M. Calabro, President, CEO, Publisher & Editor
Florida TaxWatch Research Institute, Inc. www.floridataxwatch.org