In the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the U.S. government is dangling a new incentive: a $20 million prize for a quick diagnostic test to recognize highly resistant infections. The prize is just one in a slew of actions announced by the White House today to signal its greater attention to the threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes.
Alongside the prize, the administration announced a national strategy that sets goals to be achieved by 2020, including better surveillance of highly resistant infections, faster development of new antibiotics, and more judicious use of existing drugs. The president also signed an executive order creating both an advisory council of nongovernmental experts and an interagency task force, co-chaired by the secretaries of the Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense, and Agriculture departments. “This represents a major elevation of the issue, a major upgrading of the administration’s effort to help address it,” said John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, during a press conference today.