At the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA this Thursday – more info here:
By Diana R. H. Winters
[Cross-posted at HealthLawProf blog.]
Yesterday was a big day in the fight against antibiotic resistance. The White House released an Executive Order and a National Strategy document on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on antibiotic resistance, and the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority announced a $20 million prize for developing tests to identify highly resistant infections. Kevin Outterson at The Incidental Economist, Food Safety News, and the New York Times provide a good summary of these developments.
It is clear that the administration recognizes the grave threat posed by antibiotic resistance and that it intends to make combating this danger a national priority. Its approach is broad—the National Strategy includes a “Guiding Principle” that “[d]etecting and controlling antibiotic resistance requires the adoption of a ‘One-Health’ approach to disease surveillance that recognizes that resistance can arise in humans, animals, and the environment,” and the strategy pays much attention to the role of antibiotics in food production. One main objective of the strategy is to eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics at subtherapeutic levels for growth promotion (the practice of feeding animals antibiotics to make them fatter, not to make them well).
But in regards to the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals, the strategy does not provide the tools, or even the rhetoric, to support meaningful movement towards decreasing their use. The strategy calls for FDA to implement Guidance #213, to enhance its data collection capabilities, and to increase educational outreach on the appropriate use of antibiotics. Guidance #213, issued in December 2013, is intended to provide drug sponsors with information as to how they can “modify the use conditions” of medically important antimicrobial drug products to limit use to that “necessary for assuring animal health,” and only under veterinary supervision. Not only do guidance documents not establish legally enforceable duties, the recommendations in Guidance #213 are characterized as voluntary. FDA, moreover, has known the dangers of using antibiotics in animal feed at subtherapeutic levels for four decades, and has been sitting on the information. Swift and strong action is needed now.
By Timo Minssen
Three days ago I commented on a couple of legal issues raised in the recent Nature report “Phage therapy gets revitalized” by Sara Reardon. One challenge concerns the reluctance of pharma companies to broadly invest in the development of phage therapies. As pointed out in the report, this does of course very much (but not only) relate to the question of patentability. Various aspects might present obstacles to the patentability of technology relating to phage therapy. To not complicate the discussion and considering recent developments I decided to focus on some of aspects under US patent law.
Like in Europe, the first door to patentability that phage-related technology would need to pass concerns patent eligibility. In the last years the US Supreme Court has rendered an astonishing number of fundamental patent-decisions, including not less than four (!) landmark judgments on patent eligibility, i.e. Bilski v. Kappos (2010), Mayo v. Prometheus (2012) , AMP v. Myriad (2013) and Alice v. CLS (2014). Most relevant in this context are the decisions in Prometheus and Myriad.