...Resources for the Future , the Centers for Disease Control, and many others have been sounding the alarm about the growing threat from resistant microorganisms and the need for innovation in the area of antibiotics. Congress must listen.

--Senator Orrin Hatch, on the floor of the Senate, introducing the Hatch Amendment on Antibiotics and Enantiomers, May 7, 2007

Federal agencies define the terms under which new antibiotics are developed and sold. With systems serving America’s military, veterans, and others, federal government is a major health care provider. Federal agencies promote public health and wellness. And through programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government is the nation’s largest health care consumer. Each of these roles provides opportunities to maintain antibiotic effectiveness. But perhaps the most important role federal government can play is one it currently does not: that of steward. Though an interagency task force on antimicrobial resistance has been assembled, it lacks the legal mandate, funding, and authority necessary to coordinate the federal government’s many roles in a truly comprehensive effort to maintain antibiotic effectiveness. When we acknowledge antibiotic effectiveness as a valuable shared resource we give government a central role in its maintenance.

See our recent op-ed on the importance of infection control (closely tied to antibiotic use) to any successful health reform proposal.