Passage of New Antibiotics Bill Is the Goal of March on the Hill Advocates

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by Mary Chapman |

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More than 160 cystic fibrosis (CF) patients representing 46 states met virtually with congressional lawmakers to advocate for legislation that would provide a more robust antibiotics pipeline.

As part of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s (CFF) 15th annual March on the Hill, advocates sought sponsorship support for the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act of 2021 (S.2076), a bipartisan proposal that would bolster new antibiotics development and promote using existing ones appropriately.

The measure, introduced last June, was applauded by CFF for its potential to spur funding to develop new antibiotics by addressing economic disincentives that have long plagued such investments.

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Many CF patients develop complications from infections that could worsen their lung condition. CF advocates are particularly concerned about an antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus since such infections, when persistent, are associated with swift lung decline and lower survival rates among patients.

“Living with cystic fibrosis is a microcosm of the widespread risks of persistent antibiotic use and the potential effects of antibiotic-resistant organisms,” Mary Dwight, senior vice president and chief policy and advocacy officer, CFF, said in a press release. “Being one of the only patient organizations that can speak directly to the growing concern of antibiotic-resistant infections is an honor. The crisis is happening now, and every story our community shares reiterates the urgency to pass the PASTEUR Act and begins to solve the problem.”

To date, the foundation has invested more than $100 million in various studies through its Infection Research Initiative, which seeks improvements in diagnosing and treating chronic infections in CF. Launched in 2018, the initiative is part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to find new ways to treat antibiotic-resistant infections, and improve detection and diagnosis. It also seeks to enhance existing treatments.

As of January, more than 20 industry programs have been funded by the effort, with grants totaling $60 million. Six studies are underway to better treat common CF infections, including those caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas.

During March on the Hill, advocates meet with lawmakers and their staffs in Washington D.C. to lobby for policies to help the CFF community. This year, the event was held virtually to maintain advocates’ health and safety.

In addition to that event, nearly 1,400 community members from every state took part in the organization’s Online Day of Action to buttress advocates’ efforts. More than 4,500 messages were sent to legislators from around the country about community needs.

For more information about the foundation’s advocacy efforts, send the text FIGHTCF to 96387, or sign up for CFF advocacy alerts.