Consumer Reports Aims to Stop the Spread of Superbugs

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CEO Marta Tellado at White House Forum Today

We are committed to investing our time, resources, and energy to work with government, industry, and the American public to stop the spread of superbugs.

Consumer Reports, the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit consumer organization, today announced its commitment to help wipe out antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbugs.” Infections related to the use of antibiotics sicken about 2.25 million Americans each year and kill 37,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The initiative kicks off today with CR President and CEO Marta Tellado participating in the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship. The event brings together key federal and private sector constituencies involved in the development, promotion, and implementation of antibiotic stewardship activities to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics nationwide.

Tellado said this heightened focus also includes a 3-part investigative series on antibiotic resistance, including their overuse and misuse, the surge of superbugs in hospitals, and the role that antibiotics play in the production of our meat supply. Part one of the series, “How to Stop a Superbug,” will appear in the August issue of Consumer Reports magazine, which hits newsstands on July 7th and online on June 25. CR’s coverage related to superbugs can be found at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/superbugs and on Twitter at #SlamSuperbugs.

“For 80 years Consumer Reports has been on consumers’ side, fighting threats to public health for every generation. Antibiotic-resistant infection is the health crisis of our generation. We are committed to investing our time, resources, and energy to work with government, industry, and the American public to stop the spread of superbugs,” said Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “The only way we are going to make progress is by taking bold steps and we welcome the White House Summit as one of those steps.”

Specifically, Consumer Reports supports:

  • Requiring hospitals and health-care providers to report antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Mandatory real-time reporting of outbreaks related to antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Improvements to rapid diagnostic testing to distinguish between viral and bacterial pathogens, so antibiotics get prescribed more judiciously.
  • Rigorous pre-market safety testing for new antibiotics.
  • A ban on using antibiotics on healthy animals.

This week Consumer Reports will also be announcing its collaboration with seven U.S. health care organizations to focus on reducing the use of antibiotics for viral infections by at least 20 percent within three years. This campaign is supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for Choosing Wisely, a physician and patient education initiative overseen by the ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine) Foundation. In its role leading patient outreach, Consumer Reports is producing educational materials about the overuse of antibiotics for dissemination through a broad network of consumer organizations and regional healthcare collaboratives.

Later this month, Consumer Reports Board Chair Diane Archer will moderate a panel on the issue of antibiotic overuse at Spotlight Health, a segment of the Aspen Ideas Festival produced by the Aspen Institute.

Consumer Reports has advocated and reported on the issue of antibiotic overuse for many years, most notably through its Safe Patient Project and ongoing testing of bacteria in meat for antibiotic resistance. It has also been urging meat producers to end the use of antibiotics in healthy animals, with several producers and retailers making commitments on this front in the past few months.

About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50-plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.

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Lauren Hackett