On July 11, Melanie Lawrence, an adult with cystic fibrosis and winner of the CF Foundation’s Alex Award, testified before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security at a hearing regarding the impact of antimicrobial resistance on modern medicine.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was approached by subcommittee chair Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and ranking member Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) for recommendations of witnesses able to provide powerful patient perspectives, selecting Lawrence and her compelling personal story and first-hand experience battling antimicrobial-resistant infections. Lawrence leveraged her own experience and the similar experiences of many others in the CF community to advocate for people battling difficult-to treat infections that are not receptive to existing antibiotics.
“Chronic respiratory infections continue to be a hallmark of living with CF because of the persistent mucus in the lungs of people with the disease ... as a result I have relied on antibiotics my whole life. Throughout my childhood and early teenage years, antibiotics were highly effective ... Now in my forties, the bacteria in my lungs are resistant to nearly all antibiotics except for Tobramycin, which I cannot take because it is so toxic to my already damaged kidneys and hearing,” stated Lawrence in her testimony.
She continued, “Every single antibiotic I try results in insufferable side effects that require me to take additional drugs to counteract them, or I am forced to discontinue the course early because they make me feel so miserable. Today’s antibiotics are not nearly the friendly savior I used to depend upon, and I regularly have to ask myself which is worse: the infection or the side effects?”
Antimicrobial resistance and the spread of drug-resistant superbugs is an increasingly challenging public health issue that can impact anyone, but is particularly urgent for those who may face heightened risk of chronic infections and may require routine use of antibiotics, like people with cystic fibrosis. The Foundation is advocating for passage of the PASTEUR Act, which would incentivize the development of highly innovative antimicrobials to help fight deadly infections.
Learn more about how you can ask your member of Congress to help get these desperately needed treatments into the hands of patients who need them most.
Other witnesses at the hearing included Dr. Michael Apley, professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University; Dr. Helen Boucher, dean and professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine; and Christine Ann Miller, president and chief executive officer at Melinta Therapeutics. To learn more about the hearing or view a webcast of the event, visit the Senate HELP Committee website.