September 13, 2023
I don’t think I can overstate how much I love watching The West Wing. I’m typically a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s work (A Few Good Men, The American President, Newsroom, and To Kill a Mockingbird to name only a few) and right now, listening to smart dialogue about complex political issues provides an antidote to the soundbite discourse of the day. I’ve gone back to rewatch the series from the start and I’m impressed that the show does not hide the currents of power, control, and special interests that run through the political process; rather, it navigates them by returning to principled leadership, civil discourse, and bipartisanship.
I also would like to think that it served as prep work for our day on Capitol Hill. On September 12, Jason Newland and I, representing IDSA and PIDS, along with many others representing the CF Foundation, industry, and others went to DC to advocate for the PASTEUR Act. We were a small representation of the more than 230 organizations and companies that had signed onto a letter of support to the bill’s cosponsors.
The PASTEUR Act would establish a subscription-style program to provide federal contracts for a reliable supply of critically needed antimicrobials. Since payments for antimicrobials would be decoupled from sales volume – a considerable alteration to the usual pharmaceutical development model – companies could still anticipate recouping research and development costs while we continue to provide responsible stewardship of these agents. The costs of the program included in the bill are estimated to be $6B over 10 years, which pales in comparison to the $4B we experience each year in excess medical costs due to antimicrobial resistance.
As you might imagine, the meetings had a different flavor depending on whether we were meeting with Democratic or Republican offices. Each seemed motivated by their particular political lens, whether fiscal responsibility, encouraging small business owners, smart spending, incentivizing innovation, or public health; but, they all listened and many had remarkably insightful questions about the proposed bill.
Why do I bring this up to you? We should be advocates, each of us, at the local, state and national levels. Please consider reaching out to your senators and representatives about the PASTEUR Act, especially Republican leaders. While the bill already enjoys bipartisan support, we want to have balanced co-sponsorship of the bills in the Senate and House to improve its chances of passage.
As my favorite President Josiah Bartlett said in paraphrasing the famous Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful individuals can change the world, because it’s the only thing that ever has.”
We can’t wait to see many of you at IDWeek soon. Keep up the good work.
Onward and upward, Buddy