ASM Statement on the President's Proposed 2016 Budget to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Jan. 28, 2015

Dear Colleague:

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) applauds the Administration’s January 27 announcement that its FY 2016 budget would nearly double funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance among microbial pathogens. Fighting the emergence and spread of these resistant infections requires the highest levels of scientific innovation and economic investment. The $1.2 billion earmarked for biomedical research and public health surveillance against antibiotic resistant bacteria would significantly reinforce the nation’s campaign to stop a major threat to public health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year antibiotic- resistant bacteria cause at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States, forcing at least $20 billion in excess direct health care costs and up to $35 billion in lost productivity. Antibiotic resistance is emerging among a wider variety of pathogens responsible for both common and infrequent infections. Widespread misuse of antibiotics (an estimated half are inappropriately prescribed) further exacerbates an alarming risk to public health.

The ASM strongly supports the Administration’s aggressive stance against antibiotic resistance, formalized last fall in President Obama’s Executive Order launching coordinated federal efforts, the release of the Administration's National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and a report outlining recommendations from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The proposed FY 2016 funding is critical to successfully achieve the goals of this multi-faceted, nationwide initiative across the human health and agricultural sectors.

In the President’s FY 2016 budget, the $1.2 billion strengthens key programs at multiple federal agencies already engaged in the fight against one of public health’s most daunting and costly challenges. The ASM commends the nearly doubling of funds for the Department of Health and Human Services (almost $1 billion), quadrupling research and surveillance at the Department of Agriculture ($77 million), and increasing efforts in healthcare settings managed by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense ($85 and $75 million, respectively).

Within the Department of Health and Human Services, the budget increases would accelerate ongoing research at the National Institutes of Health focused on new rapid diagnostics and antibacterial treatments, as well as basic understanding of drug resistance mechanisms in pathogens. CDC funding supports outbreak surveillance, antibiotic use and resistance monitoring, and relevant applied research. At the Food and Drug Administration, the funds will be used by scientists to evaluate new antibacterial drugs and to address antibiotic use in food animal production.

The ASM appreciates the Administration’s unprecedented budget request for the nation’s fight against antibiotic resistance. Large scale public health initiatives, like the one introduced last fall against drug resistant infections, must be supported by new and adequate funding to succeed. The ASM endorses the Administration’s assertive actions in launching new initiatives and providing increased funding, and is eager to work with Congress to fulfill the public health objectives of these ambitious strategies.


Timothy J. Donohue, Ph.D., President, ASM
Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D., Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board