President Obama last Thursday signed an executive order directing
the formation of a task force led jointly by the secretaries of Agriculture, Defense and HHS to carry out priorities detailed in the administration’s new National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, also released last Thursday. The key goals of the strategy over the next five years include improving stewardship of existing antibiotics, devising methods to accelerate the development of new antibiotics, and strengthening the country’s ability to detect resistant-bacteria infection outbreaks. An action plan is due from the task force by Feb. 15. As an added incentive, the Obama administration plans to award a $20 million prize for the development of rapid diagnostic tests for health providers to identify highly resistant bacterial infections at the point of care.