While most staph bacteria are susceptible to antimicrobial agents, some have developed resistance. This scanning electron micrograph shows a strain of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria under high magnification. Photo by CDC Public Health Image Library/Janice Haney Carr

As bacteria grow increasingly resistant to antibiotics, scientists have warned that the federal government must take steps to keep people safe. On June 6, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, introduced a bill to encourage antibiotic research.

The Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act, H.R. 2285, would provide Congress with ways to limit and prevent antimicrobial resistance. The bill includes provisions for data collection aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance. It would also encourage clinical trials to develop microbial therapies, vaccines and diagnostics..

Matheson said antimicrobial resistance is a public health crisis that can allow superbugs to flourish. He said overuse of antibiotics is one cause of antimicrobial resistance.

“My bill…will improve antibiotic development and ultimately help people who need and rely on antibiotics,” Matheson said.

The bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish an antimicrobial office, which will develop a task force to oversee efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Congress has acknowledged the need for new antibacterials in the drug development pipeline, most recently in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which was passed in 2012. Matheson’s bill would complement that law.

IDSA applauded Matheson for reintroducing the bill. He had previously introduced it in 2007 and 2009 but House leadership did not bring it to a vote..

“The STAAR Act includes many of the steps needed to ensure that our federal response to this public health crisis is coordinated and robust, said IDSA President David Relman, MD. “We look forward to working with Rep. Matheson and other leaders in Congress and the administration to enact this important legislation.”