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Opinions: Support Antibiotic R&D; Foreign Aid Budget Cuts

U.S., EU Need To Take Concrete Action To Incentivize Investment In Antibiotic R&D

“The framework for antibiotic discovery, development and approval is broken,” Matthew Cooper of the University of Queensland and David Shales, former vice president at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, write in a Nature comment, calling for “a sustained effort from government and industry to develop new drugs quickly.”

Cooper and Shales describe several approaches to incentivize investment in research and development on antibiotics, including Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) “Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now” bill, which would offer “certain antibiotics five extra years of patent protection from generic competition” and “also enforce an expedited review of crucial new antibiotics by the FDA.” 

“Solutions have been debated over the past decade, but no concrete action has been taken. Before the end of 2011, the U.S. government and European Union (EU) need to legislate a solution. Otherwise the hundreds of thousands of people dying each year from drug-resistant infections are likely to become millions,” they conclude (4/7).

Congress Should Keep Investments That Save Lives, Reject ‘Cuts That Kill’

“Global health has historically enjoyed strong bipartisan support, with Republicans often leading on important initiatives to fight AIDS, malaria, and common childhood illnesses. However, in a tense budget atmosphere in Washington, even broadly popular programs can become political fodder,” Joanne Carter, executive director of RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece about potential FY11 budget cuts and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s recent statement that the House budget bill would kill 70,000 children.

While the estimate has since has been criticized as a “‘scare tactic,'” Carter writes, “If anything, Shah understated the impact of the cuts, which would go well beyond the USAID budget line he was discussing. Also on the chopping block are the wildly successful global AIDS program started under President George W. Bush (PEPFAR) and the highly effective Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”

“Even while acknowledging the live-saving potential of vaccines and other health programs, critics argue that our own budget predicament means we simply can’t afford to be generous. Don’t be fooled,” Carter urges, noting foreign aid comprises less than one percent of the budget. “We must protect the investments that save lives, and reject the cuts that kill,” she concludes (4/6).

Congress Should Not Cut Foreign Aid At Time Of Global Instability

“As two long-serving Republican former members of Congress, we believe the fiscal situation in this country demands bold action. However, we are deeply concerned about the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ recent proposal to make sweeping cuts to the budgets of the State Department and at the United States Agency for International Development,” Jim Kolbe, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and Connie Morella, an ambassador in residence at American University, write in a Daily Caller opinion piece.

They highlight the benefits of U.S. diplomacy and development programs, noting they “help open new markets to U.S. goods and services, protect human rights, and save lives from deadly diseases.” According to Kolbe and Morella, “Foreign assistance has empowered 43 countries to cut the incidence of malaria in half, and enabled 42 million African children to attend school. Our long-term development goal remains graduating countries to self-reliance.”

“We can’t afford to take a step back” on U.S. foreign aid efforts, “not at a time of unprecedented global instability that requires the strongest and most effective foreign policy we can muster. Our ability to take advantage of opportunities hinges on our willingness to invest in diplomacy and development and take steps to make these civilian tools of U.S. foreign policy more effective and accountable,” they conclude (4/6).

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