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Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

DISARM Act seeks to amend Social Security Act to spur antibiotic research and drug protections

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The recently introduced Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms (DISARM) Act — S. 1712 — proposes to alter Medicare reimbursement for antibiotics, promote their use and encourage new developments.

Introduced by U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the bill would alter the Social Security Act in the name of addressing increasingly drug-resistant infections. It takes into account that research and development on new antibiotics is being increasingly turned away from, as companies see them as poor investments due to the limited and short duration of their use. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), nearly 80 percent of antibiotic R&D is now pursued only by small companies — and the already few numbers of those are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat.

The bill, therefore, wants to stabilize the antibiotics market and encourage new infection-fighting drugs, while preserving the efficacy of old ones, through reimbursement for antibiotics and promotion of their appropriate use. For the former, this takes the form of increased payments to hospitals, while simultaneously demanding they monitor and report drug use to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further, stewardship programs would be established in all hospitals to slow the development of resistance.

IDSA estimates that as many as 162,044 people die from drug-resistant infections, representing the third leading cause of death in the United States.