A bipartisan group of US senators and representatives today reintroduced a bill to boost the antibiotic development market.
The Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act, which was introduced in 2020 and 2021 but never received a vote despite bipartisan support, would establish a subscription-style payment model for new antibiotics. Under the model, companies that develop innovative new antibiotics for drug-resistant infections would receive contracts from the federal government valued between $750 million and $3 billion to make the antibiotics available at no charge for patients covered by federal health insurance programs.
The bill would also require companies to support appropriate use of the new antibiotics and conduct post-marketing studies. A committee made up of doctors, patients, outside experts, and representatives of federal agencies would develop guidance on infections and pathogens to target and on the favored characteristics of potential treatments.
Weak antibiotic pipeline
The aim of the legislation is to address the broken market for new antibiotics by de-linking companies' profits from the volume of antibiotics sold. Advocates say this is necessary because antibiotics are expensive to develop but don't generate much revenue for companies, since they are only used for short periods and need to be used judiciously to maintain their effectiveness.
The financial challenges of antibiotic development have discouraged investment and led many pharmaceutical companies to drop their antibiotic programs, resulting in a weak pipeline of new products at a time when antibiotic resistance is growing.
Our bill would incentivize the development of new innovative antibiotics and focus on educating health care providers.
The bill is cosponsored by US senators Michael Bennet (D-Col.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), along with US representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), and Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.).
"Market failures have resulted in a lack of needed research and development in this field which is a threat to public health," Young said in a press release. "Our bill would incentivize the development of new innovative antibiotics and focus on educating health care providers on how to avoid overuse or misuse of these life-saving medications in order to slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens."