Make hospital antibiotic stewardship programs mandatory, HHS chief urged

A presidential advisory panel is urging the HHS secretary to make antibiotic stewardship programs mandatory for U.S. hospitals.

In an April letter to HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar, the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria stresses that mandatory implementation is critical to fighting the overprescribing of antibiotics that could "undermine the collective U.S. government effort in combating antibiotic resistance."

Antibiotic resistance costs up to $2.2 billion annually, the letter states, and constitutes a major public health threat. Research has shown that programs that provide guidance for the safe and cost-effective use of antimicrobial agents are effective in cutting inappropriate antibiotic prescribing, the letter states.

The letter urges Mr. Azar to immediately finalize a proposed CMS rule before the June deadline to make the stewardship programs mandatory.

The advisory council was created in 2015 specifically to advise the HHS secretary on federal programs and policies to combat antibiotic resistance.

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