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Congress can fight antibiotic resistance by funding programs to curb unnecessary prescriptions, speeding up the drug development process and improving testing to determine whether a patient has a virus or a bacterial infection, federal government health experts said Tuesday.

They spoke at a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on the U.S. public health response to antibiotic resistance.

In fiscal 2016, Congress allocated more than $830 million to address antibiotic resistance and the White House has requested $1.1 billion for fiscal 2017.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said that request should be approved and the funding must continue in the years to come. “This is not an issue we can address for a few years and then ignore,” he said.

A provision that provides for the approval of drugs used for a “limited population” of patients in order to address increases in bacterial resistance was included in the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed the House last year.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), the panel’s ranking member, said she hopes the Senate will see the need for the legislation and quickly approve its version of 21st Century Cures. “Maybe this urgent issue can be used to get members to enact this important law,” she said.


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