W. Kemper Alston, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the infectious disease division at the UVM Medical Center and professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine
(JULY 28, 2023) In an opinion piece in VTDigger published shortly after severe flooding impacted much of Vermont, W. Kemper Alston, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the infectious disease division at the UVM Medical Center and professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine, cautioned that climate change, superstorms, and flooding could hasten the spread of antibiotic-resistant “superbug” infections.
“The planet is warming, and bacteria, viruses, and fungi are evolving faster than we can control them,” he wrote. “New infections, like COVID-19, are emerging all the time while none have been eliminated. Without urgent action, I am afraid that current efforts to mitigate this public health crisis will fall short … So far, our response to antimicrobial resistance has been inadequate, and this is a public health crisis that we may see accelerate as the climate changes.”
Alston wrote the opinion piece to advocate for the bipartisan PASTEUR Act that is currently before Congress. He outlined several benefits of PASTEUR (Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions To End Upsurging Resistance), including his belief that it would create an alternative model of financing antibiotics in which pharmaceutical companies would receive payment via a federal contract rather than payment based on sales; strengthen efforts to ensure that novel antimicrobials are used carefully and improve health care quality by providing funds to antimicrobial stewardship programs; and — importantly — guarantee access to novel antibiotics for patients on Medicare and Medicaid, and those who receive care from the VA and Tri-Care.
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