CDC antibiotic research

CDC’s Kitty Anderson holds up a 96-well plate used for testing the ability of bacteria to growth in the presence of antibiotics.

In response to a landmark report issued a year ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that sounded the alarm on drug-resistant threats to human health, President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order and National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

The CDC has called antibiotic resistance one of the most urgent health threats facing the U.S. population today. 

The CDC says Antibiotic-resistant bacteria – germs that don’t respond to the drugs designed to kill them – threaten to return us to the time when simple infections were often fatal. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually cause a minimum of 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States.

Every day we don’t act to better protect antibiotics will make it harder and more expensive to address drug resistance in the future, said Dr. Tom Frieden, MPH, director of the CDC. "Drug resistance can undermine both our ability to fight infectious diseases and much of modern medicine. Patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, dialysis for renal failure, and increasingly common treatments for diseases such as arthritis depend on antibiotics so common infectious complications can be treated effectively.

Detecting, preventing and controlling antibiotic resistance requires a coordinated effort. To support the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, CDC says it is working to address the threat in these four areas:

  1. Slow the development of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections.
  2. Strengthen national one-health surveillance efforts to combat resistance.
  3. Advance development and use of rapid and innovative diagnostic tests for identification and characterization of resistant bacteria.
  4. Improve international collaboration and capacities for antibiotic resistance prevention, surveillance, control and antibiotic research and development.

These important plans are part of CDC's request for $30 million for CDC's Detect and Protect Initiative and $14 million for the National Healthcare Safety Network to combat resistant bacteria. These strategies and the funds needed to implement them are a down-payment to improve our country’s ability to start tackling our biggest drug-resistant threats.