March 02, 2023

Rep. Mike Levin Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Coordinate Global Pandemic Response & Drug Research

The SUPER BUGS Act Would Fight Against Drug-Resistant Diseases That Could Lead to Next Pandemic

Washington, D.C.- Today, Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA-03) reintroduced the bipartisan Saving Us from Pandemic Era Resistance by Building a Unified Global Strategy (SUPER BUGS) Act. The bill, H.R. 1305, would help prepare for future pandemics by directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the Department of State, to coordinate a strategy and partner with foreign countries, multilateral organization, and other entities on the development and commercialization of new antimicrobial drugs, diagnostics, and other products. These new antimicrobial products would fight the rapid global spread of pathogens resistant to treatment, which are considered “superbugs.”

Each year in the United States, at least 2.8 million people become infected with superbug pathogens that are resistant to treatment, and more than 35,000 of them die from these infections. In California and the Southwest, the fungal infection Valley Fever is one example of a “superbug” that is resistant to antifungal treatment and has worsened due to climate change.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that we need international cooperation to effectively fight against diseases that could lead to the next global pandemic. The rise of superbugs, drug-resistant microbes like the one that causes Valley Fever in California, threatens our ability to contain the spread of infectious diseases. My legislation would direct a global strategy to develop and commercialize drugs and other products to fight superbugs and prevent another global pandemic,” said Rep. Mike Levin.

“The United States needs to take swift and decisive steps to improve our antimicrobial research and development,” said Rep. Drew Ferguson. “One fast emerging health threat – the growing rates of infections that antibiotics cannot cure – could become the next pandemic if we fail to prepare. We also need other countries and the international community to do their part, which is why I am proud to join Congressman Mike Levin in introducing the SUPER BUGS Act. This legislation encourages the development of a strategy for collaboration with our partners around the world.”

The SUPER BUGS Act aims to increase the availability of new drugs, treatments, and diagnostics for drug-resistant pathogens through coordination with the international community. The bill’s coordinated strategy approach would strive to secure equitable contributions among participating entities, focus on global priorities while allowing entities to emphasize national or regional issues of importance, and consider securing contracts with the private sector, entering into public-private partnerships, implementing alternative payment models, and streamlining regulatory approval processes.

 This bill is endorsed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, American Society of Microbiology, Global Health Technologies Coalition, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

 “Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent threat to patient safety and public health. Effective antimicrobials are essential for much of modern medicine to deliver on its promises, including cancer chemotherapy, organ transplantation and complex surgeries. International cooperation to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and foster antimicrobial innovation is critical to ensuring we don't run out of effective antimicrobials and strengthen our preparedness. IDSA is pleased to support the SUPER BUGS Act as one key component of our nation’s strategy to tackle AMR,” said Carlos del Rio, MD, FIDSA, President, Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) recognizes that a global challenge like developing new antimicrobial resistance (AMR) diagnostics and therapeutics requires a global approach,” said Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, Chief Executive Officer of ASM. “That's what this legislation aims to do. We look forward to working with Reps. Ferguson and Levin to advance policy solutions to this public health crisis.”

“Individuals with cystic fibrosis and other patient populations facing the dangers of difficult-to treat infections urgently need access to effective antibiotics,” said Mary Dwight, Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “The Foundation applauds the introduction of the bipartisan SUPER BUGS Act which would allow the critical collaboration needed to develop the life-saving treatments needed to combat anti-microbial resistant pathogens, help high-risk populations like individuals with CF, and potentially stave off another pandemic.”

 “Improved international coordination is needed to advance new technologies to combat pandemic and drug-resistant threats. We applaud Rep. Mike Levin and Rep. Drew Ferguson for their leadership on the SUPER BUGS ACT, which would address this challenge head-on by making our approach to research smarter and more efficient. If passed, it would strengthen both national and global health security. We endorse this bill and urge Congress to pass it swiftly,” said Jamie Bay Nishi, Executive Director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition.