Blumenthal Joins Patient and Experts to Discuss Spread of “Superbugs” and Legislative Solutions

(Hartford, CT) –Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today joined doctors, scientific experts, and a former patient at hospitals in Hartford and New Haven to discuss the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act, a bipartisan bill he introduced last week with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) to combat the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria by spurring the development of new antibiotic drugs. While antibiotics are widely used by doctors to treat common infections, an increasing number of strains of bacterial infections are immune to existing antibiotics. The GAIN Act will provide incentives to increase the commercial value of innovative antibiotic drugs and streamline the regulatory process so that pioneering infectious disease products can reach patients.

Blumenthal said, “We are in an arms race against super bugs, increasingly resistant to our present antibiotic treatments, and we are losing. This bipartisan legislation is a targeted attack on mutant germs, which are a dangerous public health threat, particularly to children, seniors, and our returning troops in Connecticut and across the country. These infections place a costly strain on our health care system, and without the development of new antibiotics to treat patients, it will become even more difficult, if not impossible, to stop these bacteria and infections from spreading.”

In Hartford, Blumenthal was joined by Jamel Sawyer, former college football player and patient who contracted an antibiotic resistant Staph infection which caused him partial paralysis, as well as by doctors from Hartford Hospital and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. 

At Yale New Haven Hospital, Blumenthal was joined by physicians and scientists from the hospital, the University of Connecticut Health Center, Yale University, and representatives from Rib-X Pharmaceuticals for a roundtable discussion on the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” in Connecticut and across the country. Sharon Ladin, Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Antibiotics and Innovation Project, joined Blumenthal at both locations.

Antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise, causing tens of thousands of deaths each year - disproportionately affecting children and the elderly - and leading to $26 billion in extra costs annually to the U.S. health care system. The rate of antibiotic resistant Staph infections is approaching 50%; currently, antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections are responsible for over 17,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. 

The issue increasingly affects troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as many of them have been exposed to a new, highly-resistant, and contagious strain of Acinetobacter bacteria - 89% of infections caused by mutant strains of Acinetobacter are resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics and 15% are resistant to all forms of treatment. 

The GAIN Act has been endorsed by 39 groups, including the National Military Vets Alliance, American Medical Association, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Children’s National Medical Center. The GAIN Act was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in June, led by Representatives Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO).