Updated Sep 15, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on preparing for the next pandemic

On Thursday, September 15th, Axios health care editor Tina Reed led conversations with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Capt. Arjun Srinivasan, MD about the impact and prevalence of antimicrobial resistance and what solutions could tackle this public health issue and add to national pandemic preparedness strategies. 

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said he learned that antimicrobial resistance kills one person every 15 minutes and decided to explore bipartisan policy solutions to prevent those deaths. 

  • On antibiotic shortages and marketplace stagnation: “Currently, the federal government has an outdated model in compensating the most innovative companies who try to bring to bear the best science and address these challenges…all it takes is one major outbreak to not only lead to the loss of thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps many many more lives lost, but also expenditures to our economy…to deal with it on the back end.”
  • On Young’s PASTEUR Act to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance: “What we’re really doing is we’re empowering our leaders at the Centers for Disease Control to work with innovators and to pay for a reliable supply of these novel antimicrobials that are decoupled from the volume of antimicrobials actually used. Right now we pay for volume…what we really need is to have an arsenal of treatments…we want to pay for those successful interventions.”

Capt. Arjun Srinivasan, MD said the threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria, or “superbugs” was a significant public health threat even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • On how the threat of superbugs has evolved: “This is a huge problem that has been present for quite some time. Before the pandemic we had seen some progress in reducing some of these infections…it’s hard to understate how important those gains were…what we saw during the pandemic was a reversal of many of those gains. There were increases in infections across the board for the resistant pathogens that are most problematic in health care. We saw increases by an average of about 15 percent.”
  • On how the pandemic increased the superbug threat: “They are factors you would expect to see in any pandemic. There are a large number of patients who are ill, who need medical care…patients in the hospital for a long length of time, patients who need devices like catheters in their blood streams, many of them needed to be on ventilators. …every one of those factors increases the risk of infections…transmission…all of these factors drove up rates of resistance…infections…it’s really important for us to think about as we get ready for the next pandemic.”

In the View from the Top segment, Erika Satterwhite, head of global policy at Viatris, offered solutions for combatting growing threats of antimicrobial resistance.

  • “We can begin by preventing infections in the first place- by furthering efforts around sanitation, hygiene, hospital-based infection control, and vaccination, both for bacterial pathogens directly as well as for viral infections to stop the inappropriate use or overuse of antibiotics…we need collaboration. This is something that no company or entity can tackle on their own. Stakeholders across the board…all need to work together.” 

Thank you Viatris for sponsoring this event.

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