Family physicians keep an eye on all aspects of our health

We put a lot of work into maintaining our homes, cars and appliances throughout the year, including regular maintenance and service checks. But how can we do the same for our most important asset: our health?

That’s where Kentucky’s family doctors come in. Primary care physicians like me develop strong, long-lasting relationships with our patients and their families. From administering immunizations and conducting routine checkups to providing ongoing care for chronic conditions, we are here to serve you, no matter your age or medical history.

Just as our homes, cars, and appliances need preventive measures, so do our bodies—and GPs are a crucial part of the equation. We work with our patients to ensure they are making good health decisions and have the right medications and treatments to fight disease when needed.

In recent years, our healthcare system has focused on treating and stopping the spread of COVID-19. Now that cases are declining, we must focus on preventing other serious health threats. A growing problem we are seeing is antimicrobial resistance, or AMR.

Antibiotics play an important role in medicine. Without it, some of the most common ailments like ear infections, sore throats, or even something as simple as a scraped knee could be life threatening. When AMR occurs, its effectiveness and your health are at risk.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens change over time and become unresponsive to drugs, making common infections more difficult to treat and increasing the risk of disease, serious illness, and death.

Even before the pandemic, AMR was a global health problem. In fact, the CDC estimates that more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States annually, resulting in 35,000 deaths. And by 2050, many more people around the world are expected to die from antibiotic-resistant infections if we don’t address this problem now.

Doctors have been treating infections with antibiotics since World War II. Yet our pipeline of innovative medicines and treatments is dwindling, making antibiotic-resistant infections more likely and dangerous.

Primary care physicians have seen firsthand how rapidly these antibiotic-resistant infections have increased over the past decade. As GPs, we need to talk to our patients about germs becoming resistant to antibiotics and, where possible, recommend other treatment options for bacterial infections.

We should be careful when prescribing these medicines, but we must also be committed to continued medical innovation leading to new and improved antibiotics. New antibiotics will allow us to treat many infections without jeopardizing the health of our patients.

The good news is that federal lawmakers are listening to our concerns. The Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Up Surging Resistance Act, or PASTEUR Act, was introduced to incentivize the development of new antibiotics by providing a consistent payment model for drugs intended for short-term use. This legislation is critical to addressing AMR concerns, promoting pharmaceutical innovation and improving health outcomes.

Given that the FDA only approved 15 antibiotics between 2010 and 2019, drugmakers clearly need to feel comfortable investing in research and development to counteract AMR. Therefore, we encourage our elected representatives in Congress to support this bill.

Ultimately, family physicians here in Kentucky and across the country remain committed to helping our patients live long, healthy lives. The PASTEUR Act will give us the new, effective, life-saving antibiotics we need to keep working toward that goal.

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