Government Leadership On Antibiotic Resistance — In Europe

Maryn McKenna | WIRED | July 3, 2014

A few pieces of news relative to antibiotic resistance caught my eye over the past few days. What they all had in common: Highly placed politicians stating unambiguously that antibiotic resistance should be a national and international priority.  This is superb, with just one catch: The politicians were in Europe.

The politicians speaking out were Prime Minister David Cameron in the United Kingdom, and Edith Ingeborg Schippers, Minister for Health, Education and Welfare, in the Netherlands. The leader of one government and a Cabinet-level minister in another — I can’t think of any occasion where US government officials of equal status have spoken out on the problem. In the United States, articulating the government position on resistance has been left to Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is a very direct and thoughtful spokesman, but in the government’s organizational chart, he is one step below Schippers’ counterpart, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Sylvia Mathews Burwell, sworn in last month), and several below Cameron’s counterpart, President Barack Obama.

Imagine Obama speaking out about antibiotic resistance. What a powerful statement of priorities that would be.  Cameron spoke Wednesday to announce a UK government inquiry into the market failure that allowed pharma companies to leave antibiotics manufacturing rather than making new drugs...