With the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and the resulting shortages of antibiotics, attention has been drawn to a proposed $6 billion bill, known as the Pasteur Act, that would reconfigure the way antimicrobial drugs are developed and sold. The legislation would create a subscription-like system that would provide pharmaceutical companies an upfront payment in exchange for unlimited access to a drug once it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Supporters of the bill hope that prescribers will save new drugs for patients whose infections are resistant to existing medications and the measure has bipartisan support and is widely backed by researchers, health care policy experts and drug company executives. However, some doctors and health care advocates, many of them critics of Big Pharma, have voiced opposition to the bill as they say it is a drug-industry giveaway and unlikely to address the problem of antibiotic resistance. They have also raised concerns over cost and the F.D.A.'s existing approval process for antibiotics. Those in favor of the bill argue that it includes a provision to fund any antibiotic based on whether the drug meets a critical need, and that it could result in $32 billion in savings over a decade and save 20,000 lives in the United States and 518,000 around the world. The bill is currently being considered by Congress, but with the end of the lame duck session and holiday season approaching, its prospects are uncertain.
Federally funded "Netflix Model" proposed to address antibiotic market issues