Funding for antibacterial resistance research. Not so much.

At least no funding for ESCKAPE pathogen research
I just got back from attending the World HAI Forum in Annecy and the 1st ICPIC meeting in Geneva.  Both great meetings.  I will share my thoughts on the implications of ICPIC in a later post.

Last year at IDSA, Roy (Trip) Gulick stated that there are now 10,000 possible ART combinations for HIV treatment.  When he said that, I instantly got a sinking feeling in my gut.  Right now, there are many people colonized and infected with resistant bacteria for which we have NO EFFECTIVE THERAPY.  Sorry for shouting.  Think about the MDR-Acinetobacter or NDM-1 strains that are circulating.  Pretty soon we won't even have effective therapy for community UTIs.

As I thought about why this might be, I looked for the federal funding picture for antibacterial resistance research, but there were no published data.  So, we found the numbers ourselves.  I presented the data last week and Marin McKenna kindly described our findings at the World HAI Forum on her Wired Superbug blog.  She did a much better job describing our research findings than I could have.  If you're interested in reading about how much NIH/NIAID spends on antibacterial resistance research, head on over to her blog...

UPDATE:  We published these findings in the first batch of articles in the ARIC journal, see: Kwon et al. 2012 ARIC


  1. I saw the article in wired yesterday Eli. Very excellent article. I'm glad you and Maryn were able to draw attention to the issue. It will be interesting to see how everyone will heed the warnings and call to action by the World Health Forum. Very frightening stuff. I've recapped the call to action on my site if anyone is interested:

    Julie Reagan

  2. It shouldn't be a surprise that there are many HIV drugs...they are drugs for a chronic disease that require a lifetime of treatment AND millions of people need them. Same is not applicable for antibiotics against resistant Gram-negatives: short treatment courses, very selective population, and physicians want to limit their use. Sounds only reasonable that for-profit companies would invest in the former.
    A few weeks ago I was giving a presentation about the Gram-negative resistant problem to a bunch of PhDs in Epi. Their conclusion was that the Government will not invest more $ in this issue until there is a more acute problem involving relatively young healthy people, +/- high mortality, during a relatively short period of time. Then we will have more $$$. You can argue that it will be a little too late.

  3. Thanks for your comments. I think we are already there with young health people dying of MRSA and also resistant E coli UTIs. The fact is that there are no good statistics for death by an MDRO since the ICD-9 coding doesn't capture the death. It does track Diabetes and lung cancer so we have better statistics and guides for funding. We all see people die each day with MDROs like MRSA, and it doesn't have to be that way.

    We need new antibiotics. NDM-1 and CTX-M are pretty scary. Or how about this OXA48 Klebsiella that has killed 21 patients in the Netherlands.


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