Skip to content

BIO: How the PASTEUR Act would support antibiotic R&D

The PASTEUR Act, legislation designed to make research and development of new antibiotics economically viable, was reintroduced in Congress last week with bipartisan support. Here’s what it would do and why it matters.

Antimicrobial resistance is a big problem. AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antibiotics. If we don’t act, deaths from these “superbugs” could reach 10 million per year by 2050, about the same number as cancer.

But developing new antibiotics is challenging.

“We have seen multiple antibiotic companies successfully develop antibiotics only to go bankrupt in the last five years,” said Henry Skinner, Ph.D., CEO of the AMR Action Fund.

The Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance, or PASTEUR, Act would help. The bill was introduced last week by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA). It was first introduced late last year.

Among other things, the bill would encourage companies to invest in new antibiotic development through a “subscription model” by which the government would pay companies for access to antibiotics regardless of how many doses are sold, the cosponsors said.

“Delinking revenues from sales volumes would give these companies the financial certainty they need to invest in the next generations of antibiotics,” wrote BIO President and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., Ph.D..

During BIO Digital 2021, Bennet said, “We can't continue speaking about resistant infections becoming the leading cause of death in 20-30 years and not do anything about it now. We have to rethink how to encourage development of the innovative antibiotics we need.”

BIO supports it. “BIO looks forward to working with lawmakers to continue to strengthen this legislation and other promising bipartisan reforms that will help deliver more innovative antimicrobial medicines to patients,” McMurry-Heath said.