Superbugs are making more and more antibiotics useless. It is a terrifying reality for doctors across this country, including in Northeast Ohio.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D - OH) is hoping he can help.
Brown introduced the STAAR Act (Strategies to Address Antibiotic Resistance) Wednesday. He's hoping the bill will get the ball rolling to stop superbugs before they become too powerful.
Each year, roughly two million Americans contract a superbug, a bacteria resistant to antibiotics. It's estimated 23,000 of those people then die from their infection.
"We, number one, don't know enough, second we've not moved fast enough as a society on research and third, this threat gets bigger every year, that's why I've been working on this for some time," said Brown.
For years, Brown has been working behind the scenes with researchers and doctors to create the STAAR Act. His bill would help develop new strategies to combat superbugs and help local hospitals stay one step ahead.
"There's not enough research being done and we're not close enough to developing new, strong antibiotics," he said.
The STAAR Act will:
- Allow the CDC to partner with local health departments for prevention
- Provide grants for appropriate use of antibiotics
- Allow the CDC to share data on cases of resistant infections
"Don't always expect to get an antibiotic when you go to the doctor, because that's not necessarily the best choice for you if you don't have a bacteria that needs to be treated," said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, Director of Infection Control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.
Hoyen says overprescribing antibiotics is one of many reasons there's been a surge in powerful superbugs. Brown's bill is a step, she thinks, in the right direction.
"We want to know what's out there in the next moment. We don't want to have a situation where we're not paying attention and then it turns out something's spread across the whole country," she said.
Brown has broad bi-partisan support for his bill, but it's unclear how budget cuts to the CDC might affect its implementation.