Capitol Hill Briefing Spotlights Efforts to Combat Antibiotic Resistance Crisis

The Healthcare Leadership hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill that focused on the severe dangers stemming from the growing global problem of antibiotic resistance, and the best methods with which to address the lessened effectiveness of antimicrobials.  HLC member companies participated, and shared a diverse set of examples of how they have taken action to address the 700,000 casualties worldwide per year.


Left to right: Dr. Kristi Kuper, Vizient; Dr. Juan Ochoa, Nestlé Health Science; Dr. Michael Wong, Merck; Dr. Elaine Cox, Indiana University School of Medicine

Dr. Elaine Cox, Medicare Director of Infection Prevention and Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship, of Indiana University Health, gave an educational overview.  She stated that there are close to 50 million unnecessary or inappropriate prescriptions for antibiotics handed out each year.  Taking antibiotics when they are not needed is a clear cause of antibiotic resistance.  Her motto was, “Right drug, right dose, right time.”

Dr. Michael Wong, Global Director for Scientific Affairs for Infectious Diseases at Merck Research Labs, explained the importance of tracking the resistant bacteria’s path and incentivizing the development of  innovative antibiotics to which bacteria is not yet resistant.  Bacteria adapts and changes, and it is difficult to invent a new antibiotic, especially with a narrow therapeutic window between a therapy’s effectiveness in killing bacteria and the moment it begins inflicting new side effects on patients.

Dr. Juan Ochoa, the U.S. Chief Medical Officer for Nestlé Health Science, discussed the role nutrition can play in harnessing the immune system, using the term “immunonutrition”.  Trauma from surgery reduces arginine, an amino acid, in the body, affecting immune functions.  Arginine replacement therapy improves clinical outcomes, reduces infections, and lessens the need for antibiotics.

Dr. Kristi Kuper, the Senior Clinical Manager of Infectious Diseases at Vizient, showcased the success of Vizient’s antibiotic stewardship programs.  The programs reduced the total use of antibiotics by 20 percent.  Unfortunately, the lack of qualified personnel and adequate IT have been barriers to the spread of implementation.