||FDA Task Force On Antimicrobial Resistance:
Key Recommendations And Report - December 2000
Task Force Participants
Tracy Acker, CDER ;
Robert Buchanan, CFSAN ;
Thomas Cebula, CFSAN ;
Gary Chikami. CDER ;
Joy Dawson, OCC ;
Lydia Falk, CBER ;
Eric Flamm, OP ;
David Fox, OCC ;
Janie Fuller, CDRH ;
Doyle Gantt, CDRH ;
Steve Gitterman, CDER ;
Mark Goldberger, CDER ;
Jesse Goodman, OC* ;
Marion Gruber, CBER ;
Tom Hassall, CDER ;
Marcia Headrick, CVM ;
Lauren Iacono-Connors, CDER ;
Sandy Kweder, CDER ;
Gene Leclerc, CFSAN ;
Catherine Lorraine, OP ;
Brian Malkin, OHA ;
Dianne Murphy, CDER* ;
Nancy Ostrove, CDER ;
Alex Rakowsky, CDER ;
Sharon Thompson, CVM ;
Linda Tollefson, CVM ;
Albert Sheldon, CDER
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Why a FDA Task Force
Executive Summary and Description of Task Force Process
Introduction: Why a FDA Task Force on Antimicrobial
Antibiotic resistance (AR) is a growing problem that has recently been identified as a major public health threat and priority by several expert committees, including those of the Institute of Medicine, the American Society for Microbiology, as well as by the US Office of Technology Assessment (1-4). The continuing emergence of difficult to treat or untreatable nosocomial pathogens such as multidrug resistant Klebsiella, vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE), and Staphylococcus aureus with intermediate susceptibility to vancomycin and other glycopeptide
antibiotics (GISA) threaten the lives of hospitalized individuals and those
with chronic conditions and add considerably to health care costs (2,4-11).
Even more disconcerting, common community acquired and food borne infections
of humans, including those due to pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae
(12), S. aureus (13,14), Salmonella (15) and Campylobacter
species (16), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (17), Neisseria gonorrhoeae
(18) and HIV (19,20) all show trends toward increasing resistance to standard
available therapies. Resistant organisms and their genes cross national and
regulatory boundaries involving foods, animals, and humans.
The factors responsible for increasing AR and the potential strategies for
attacking the problem are complex and encompass a broad range of disciplines.
Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials may be driven by unawareness, by inadequate
surveillance for resistance and by the misunderstanding of appropriate use by
health care providers and by patients and families. At times the welfare of
individual patients, usually the health care system’s primary focus, may appear
to be in conflict with over-arching public health needs. Increased competition
in health care may result in limited physician time as well as reduced availability
of diagnostic testing which may then contribute to overuse. Marketing practices
and industry needs for return from investments may be at odds with the desirability
of limited use of broad spectrum and/or newer agents. The use of antimicrobial
agents in food animals helps provide inexpensive products for the public but
can contribute to the pool of resistant pathogens (21).
In response, better surveillance for resistance and intensive education of
health professionals and the public regarding optimum usage of antimicrobials
is needed. However, even if all antibiotic use were indeed to become appropriate,
resistance would not disappear. Thus, both continuing research and the development
of new and innovative drugs, vaccines and improved diagnostics for infectious
diseases will continue to be urgently needed.
FDA has key roles in helping facilitate the development of drugs, vaccines,
devices and diagnostics as well as their safe and effective use. In addition,
FDA has an important role in informing the public and health professionals both
through educational outreach and by assuring useful and accurate product labeling
and appropriate marketing. Various Centers within FDA have already been active
in addressing the resistance problem. For example, the Center for Drug Evaluation
and Research (CDER) has sponsored Advisory Committee and other meetings to discuss
AR and ways to help speed product development including the potential to improve
clinical trial procedures for resistant organisms (22). The Center for Veterinary
Medicine recently issued a proposed framework for the regulation of antimicrobial
drug use in food animals which seeks to reduce the risk of transfer of resistance
to humans through the food chain (23). However, the FDA Commissioner and the
FDA Centers saw a need to further stimulate and coordinate action to combat
AR. To achieve this goal, an Agency-wide Task Force was chartered to develop
a clear consensus regarding what, given limited resources, should be the key
priorities of the Agency. This document presents the major results of the Task
Force’s deliberations and represents the Agency’s current thinking about how
it can best address the antimicrobial resistance problem. In addition, FDA recognizes
that managing AR requires ongoing actions by and partnerships with many others,
both within and outside of government. To this end, FDA co-chairs (with CDC
and NIH) the U.S. multi-department Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance which
is developing a broader "Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial
The FDA Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAR) was formed with the goals
of optimizing FDA’s response to the growing public health threat of antimicrobial
resistance. The Task Force represented all Centers and offices with interest
and expertise in the area and built upon their previous efforts. The Task Force
met weekly in the spring of 1999 to consider various content areas, to discuss
ongoing agency work and to propose and consider specific action items. The Task
Force kept a broad perspective ranging from such issues as the daily workings
of the review process to potential new initiatives and approaches involving
other agencies and groups. While many other agencies and groups need to be involved
in the response to antibiotic resistance, we focused upon issues and areas where
we believed FDA should and could play an important part and achieve specific
and practical outcomes.
From its meetings, the Task Force developed a list of potential action items
which it then ranked. A retreat was then held to consider and reach consensus
regarding the most highly ranked proposed actions and to then recommend actions
for adoption by the Agency.
The Task Force felt that FDA has responsibilities and the potential to improve
public health through actions in 4 key areas:
- Promptly and effectively responding to current threats from drug resistance.
- Facilitating and encouraging development and appropriate use of products
which help address the issue.
- Facilitating the safe and effective use and thus prolonging the life of
products by helping improve the quantity and quality of information available
to consumers and health professionals regarding antibiotic resistance and
principles of appropriate usage.
- Maximizing and coordinating FDA’s scientific research to address needs in
The key recommendations of the Task Force in each of these areas are listed
below and brief explanations of their background provided. In addition, for
future reference, the Task Force report includes other issues and ideas for
possible actions which were not given as high or immediate priority. This information
should be useful as the Agency moves forward in time and continues to address
this issue as it evolves.
Key Recommendations of Task Force
I. An Effective Response to Current Public Health Threats
- FDA should work to develop an appropriate regulatory framework and explore
other options to protect "drugs of last resort" (those drugs which
may represent the last line of defense against otherwise resistant organisms).
This may include post-marketing surveillance of both use and the development
- FDA should work jointly with NIH, CDC, AHRQ and others to plan and
sponsor an interagency Consensus Conference on "Preserving Therapeutic
Options for Resistant Organisms"
- CDER should hold an Anti-infective Advisory Committee Meeting to
provide specific input on FDA’s role and possible approaches for preserving
therapeutic options for resistant organisms.
Ranked of the highest priority overall, the TFAR was concerned that the
therapeutic options for resistant infections have become increasingly limited
and, therefore, important to protect and preserve for these critical uses.
In particular, there are agents, including among them both those recently
or previously approved and those as yet unlicensed, which are either the
only or among the very few available treatments for life threatening resistant
infections. This concept of "Critical (or Class I) Drugs" is also
embodied in the Proposed CVM Framework, where they would be given special
regulatory status to preserve their usefulness for human medicine. Because
these agents are nearly always active against other non-resistant bacteria,
and because the number of patients with resistant isolates is usually much
smaller, there is a strong market incentive to study and then use the drug
against bacteria for which alternative agents exist.
It is widely acknowledged that the rapidity of development of resistance
to an agent is increased with the magnitude of its use. Thus, use of these
precious drugs of last resort for infections easily treated by other medicine
is highly likely to ultimately compromise their efficacy, and, thence, their
safety in treatment of serious infections. It was felt that there should
be a high priority for monitoring use of and bacterial resistance against
such agents and that such monitoring could be in partnership with industry
itself (providing confidential use data) and CDC (coordinating active surveillance).
Such monitoring could allow detection of emerging resistance and identification
of strategies for addressing such resistance, which could include recommendations
for changes in use.
There are concerns that limiting markets in the absence of compensating
incentives (see 3, below) could
chill future development of new antimicrobials. However, for drugs critical
in the treatment of resistant organisms, there was unanimity that FDA should
not only explore potential regulatory approaches but also should take a
leadership role in bringing together appropriate stakeholders to help define
and encourage optimum use of critical agents. This process was felt to be
best initiated both through seeking input from the FDA Anti-infective Advisory
Committee and through holding a joint conference with other Federal agencies,
including NIH, CDC, and AHRQ.
- FDA should strongly support effective implementation of the
CVM Framework which addresses Antimicrobial Resistance due to food animal
uses of antimicrobials.
- In particular, the monitoring for and response to any threats to
the efficacy of drugs critical to human medicine due to food animal uses
must be sensitive, timely and decisive.
This recommendation is directly linked and related to the above, in that
the TFAR felt strongly that appropriate use of antibiotics should be encouraged
in both human and veterinary medicine. The Proposed Framework Document seeks
to rank drugs by their importance to human medicine and to provide a risk-based
framework for their use in food animals. The FDA TFAR strongly supports
the concepts embodied in the Framework Document. There was particular concern
that certain drugs, of classes currently viewed as critical for human medicin,
are already being used in food animals. While the TFAR recognized the complexity
of the Framework process, there was strong support for its rapid finalization
and implementation in order to fulfill its public health mandate.
II. Facilitation of Product Development
- FDA should continue to work within the agency
and collaborate with outside experts in order to improve and facilitate innovative
- FDA should form a high level, inter-center committee to seek outside input
and consider issues related to incentives/exclusivity for optimal human
and animal drug, vaccine, device (both anti-infective and diagnostic) and
biologics development and appropriate use to meet antimicrobial resistance
public health needs.
- CDER should move forward in its efforts to facilitate product development
by addressing issues such as: use of surrogate markers and pre-clinical
data, clinical trials for agents dealing with resistant pathogens and issue
- FDA should meet with NIH, CDC and others to discuss the possibility of
NIH involvement in, or development of, a clinical trial program which addresses
otherwise unmet needs in antimicrobial resistance and product development.
- CDRH, with CDER input, should continue to work towards developing standardized
guidelines and a management structure for addressing resistance concerns
in the review, labeling and promotion of antimicrobial containing devices.
- CDRH, with CDER input, should work with NIH, CDC and others to develop
workshops and other possible strategies to stimulate additional interest
in rapid diagnostics and susceptibility determination.
There will continue to be a critical need for innovative product development
to meet the threat poised by AR organisms. Desired products include not
only new antibiotics, but also vaccines to prevent infections and reduce
antibiotic use, and improved, more rapid, diagnostics to identify pathogens
and drug resistance. At each step of the product development process, there
is room for improvement and innovation.
Under any circumstances, but particularly if appropriate or more limited
use of certain antimicrobials is a desired outcome, there may need to be
consideration of new economic approaches to help create incentives for product
development and optimal use. There are special issues involved in encouraging
vaccine development, where exclusivity is not currently granted. It was
felt that as a first step FDA should form a high level inter-center committee
to consider options in this area.
It was also recommended that pre-licensure studies of important new products
meeting AR needs be facilitated wherever possible. This includes CDER moving
forward its process of identifying and encouraging appropriate uses of innovative
preclinical data (e.g. surrogate markers, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic
studies) and clinical trial designs to speed product development. It was
also felt that the development of an antibacterial clinical trials network,
likely under NIH lead, could potentially help facilitate clinical trials
that hasten product development and help optimize clinical practice. Such
a network could not only work with industry to assist in recruitment of
patients with AR infections for trials of new interventions, it could also
carry out studies for which the marketing incentives are insufficient (or
absent). Such studies could include head-to-head comparisons to determine
best therapy (rather than just efficacy), trials of disinfectants, new infection
control strategies, studies of generic drugs etc.
Antimicrobial containing devices (e.g. urinary and intravenous catheters,
prosthetic heart valves and joints) have been developed with the intention
of preventing infections, although clinical safety and effectiveness data
for many devices are lacking. However, concerns exist over incorporation
of critical drugs into or onto devices, and the potential for the consistent
presence of a drug to foster resistance. There is a need for standardized
tests to demonstrate safety and effectiveness, and for consistent labeling
and promotional claims for such products. Development of a written policy
for the collaborative CDRH-CDER review of products that contain both antimicrobial(s)
and device(s) will help to insure consistency in product approval.
Finally, the development of multiple new pathogen and resistance detection
methods in the research setting has so far had less than desired impact
in the clinical laboratory. While many of the difficulties in the development
and transfer of new diagnostic technologies involve issues such as cost
and quality control, the potential payoff in terms of enhancing appropriate
use of antiinfectives is tremendous. There is a great need for rapid tests
to identify the presence or absence of infection, if infection is present
whether it is bacterial, and, if bacterial, whether it is resistant. The
TFAR felt that FDA should work with other PHS agencies to enhance interest
and speed progress in this field.
III. Facilitating the Safe and Effective Use of Antimicrobials
- CDER should complete, and the Agency strongly support, the proposed
antimicrobial resistance labeling.
Product labeling offers FDA the opportunity to communicate important facts
about drug safety and efficacy and provides key information that should be
adequately presented in promotional activities. Antimicrobial resistance is
an important potential adverse effect of antimicrobial usage and may compromise
efficacy. Adherence to basic principles of antibiotic use can reduce the likelihood
of encouraging resistance. For example, antibiotics are ineffective and contraindicated
in viral infections. Also, where possible, antimicrobial use is best guided
by local epidemiology and resistance patterns. CDER has been considering required
labeling for all antibiotics to include key information about resistance and
to encourage judicious, safe and effective use. The Task Force strongly supports
- FDA should work with NIH, CDC, AHRQ and others (e.g. health professionals,
industry, health care organizations) to organize a conference or other process
to develop and promulgate "Basic Principles for Antimicrobial Use".
This action is closely linked to the set of issues embodied in the proposed
antimicrobial labeling, but extends the educational effort further and should
include a full range of stakeholders. There is a need to develop a shared
consensus on general principles for antimicrobial use which can be included
in health professions education, used by health systems and providers, and
by government agencies. Such a consensus process and the principles agreed
upon would be very useful as benchmarks for quality care and in the future
development of specific strategies for addressing emerging issues
in anti-infective therapy.
- FDA should work towards assuring that patient educational materials are
provided with each antibiotic prescription and which include content stressing
appropriate antimicrobial use. FDA should use a variety of means (e.g. meetings,
a new Website feature with outside links, publications) to better provide
enhanced and consistent information to consumers and professionals regarding
antimicrobial use and resistance, new antimicrobial approvals and related
The effort to provide information about antimicrobial products and to address
the resistance problem is complex and involves many partners. As part of its
continuing efforts to better serve consumers and professionals, FDA is uniquely
positioned to play an important role in providing accurate, consistent and
balanced information. Medication information provided by the pharmacist with
each prescription represents an important educational opportunity. FDA should
work with the health professions, academia, pharmacist groups and others to
design messages for these materials which stress appropriate antimicrobial
use. It may be possible to accomplish this in conjunction with current private
sector providers of pharmacy educational materials.
In addition, both traditional (e.g. meetings, liaisons with existing groups,
medical journals) and less traditional or newer approaches (e.g. World Wide
Web, women’s and parents’ magazines) should be used to make detailed information
on appropriate use of approved antimicrobials widely available and well linked
to other important sources. It may be particularly useful to the health professions
for FDA to promptly post information on newly approved drugs and the clinical
trials that led to their approval.
- CDER should develop a Guidance Document regarding both direct-to-consumer
and professional promotion of antimicrobials which deals with key resistance
issues and encourages appropriate promotion to preserve safety and efficacy
of approved products.
Direct-to-consumer and professional promotion of antimicrobials are both
significant sources of information to the public and the profession, respectively.
Issues of antibiotic resistance and principles of appropriate antibiotic use
are only inconsistently addressed. Some sponsors have included very helpful
information to encourage appropriate use of their products and to minimize
the development of resistance (e.g. stressing that most earaches are not caused
by bacterial infections and do not require antibiotics). The requirement for
key information on antimicrobial use for inclusion in product labeling should
be followed by the development of a more detailed guidance document which
should serve to enhance the quantity, quality and consistency of information
about resistance which reaches the intended targets.
IV. Coordinating FDA’s Scientific Response to Antimicrobial Resistance
- FDA should form an inter-center standing committee to identify
and prioritize FDA research needs and goals concerning antimicrobial resistance.
This committee should include laboratory scientists and clinicians from both
veterinary and human medicine. The committee should perform an initial and
periodic assessment of FDA AR research to help assure that it effectively
meets the Agency’s goals and fulfils clear and unmet Public health and regulatory
- This committee should also coordinate FDA resistance research activities
with those of other Agencies (e.g. CDC, USDA, EPA) and arrange for the periodic
outside review of FDA’s antibiotic resistance research as a whole.
While much research on AR is performed at universities and in industry,
FDA can play an important role, particularly in addressing questions underlying
science-based regulatory activities. There would be value added in a periodic
articulation of the underlying unmet regulatory and clinical needs and linkage
of these needs to the development of the research agenda and its priorities.
FDA has important scientific resources invested in AR and related areas
and FDA scientists have made important contributions to the field. The spectrum
of such research ranges from the basic (e.g. mechanisms of resistance induction
and transfer related to food animal use of antimicrobials) to the applied
(e.g. improved detection of resistant pathogens in regulated food products).
In hearing about the efforts of multiple centers, it also became clear that
coordination of AR research, both within FDA and with sister government
agencies and academia, is currently largely informal. Finally, periodic
external review of FDA AR research was recommended as was better coordination
and communication with other PHS Agencies.
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