Obama eyes new funds to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria

President Obama will propose nearly doubling the amount of federal funding to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria in his budget proposal, the White House said Tuesday.

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The proposals, which total more than $1.2 billion over multiple federal departments, would fund research and treatment efforts against drug-resistant bacteria that causes an estimated 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths every year.

“Antibiotic resistance limits our ability to quickly and reliably treat bacterial infections, and the rise of resistance could hamper our ability to perform a range of modern medical procedures from joint replacements to organ transplants, the safety of which depends on our ability to treat bacterial infections that can arise as post-surgical complications,” the White House said in a statement.

The budget request, set for release next week, will include $650 million for the National Institutes of Health for research into new antibiotics, as well as a large-scale study to better characterize drug resistance. The proposal would also earmark $280 million for the Centers for Disease Control to better monitor outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The White House says that will help fund the deployment of advanced tests that can quickly identify drug-resistant bacteria to help enhance infection control. It will also help healthcare facilities work better together to prevent the regional spread of so-called superbugs.

The president will also propose $47 million for the Food and Drug Administration and $77 million for the Department of Agriculture, underwriting programs to develop new antibiotics given to farm animals.

And an additional $160 million would be split between the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs to address antibiotic resistance in hospitals treating troops and veterans.

“Together, the Administration’s proposed investments of more than $1.2 billion to combat and prevent antibiotic resistance that will lead to critical new developments that could fundamentally transform how public health prevents the transmission and emergence of antibiotic-resistant infections,” the White House said.