U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order on September 18, calling for the creation of a national plan to fight antibiotic resistance by February 2015. The executive order also calls for the formation of a government task force and presidential advisory council, both of which will play a role in creating the national plan.

While the order appears to deal more with antibiotics in human medicine, it also addresses antibiotics in animal production. The order states that to achieve success in the effort to control antibiotic resistance, efforts will need to be made to strengthen surveillance efforts in public health and agriculture. It also asks the advisory council to offer recommendations for programs and policies that would “advance the development of rapid point-of-care and agricultural diagnostics” and “develop alternatives to antibiotics for agricultural purposes.”

Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The task force to be formed will be known as the Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. It will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The task force’s membership will consist of members of the Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, Agency for International Development, Office of Management and Budget, Domestic Policy Council, National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation and any other executive departments, agencies or offices as the co-chairs may see fit.

The task force is to submit a 5-year national action plan to Obama by February 15, 2015. The plan is expected to include goals, milestones and metrics for measuring progress, as well as associated timelines for implementation.

Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Burwell, in consultation with Vilsack and Hagel, will establish the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. It will be composed of no more than 30 members.

The council is tasked to provide advice, information, and recommendations to Burwell regarding programs and policies intended to: preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by optimizing their use; advance research to develop improved methods for combating antibiotic resistance and conducting antibiotic stewardship; strengthen surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections; prevent the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections; advance the development of rapid point-of-care and agricultural diagnostics; further research on new treatments for bacterial infections; develop alternatives to antibiotics for agricultural purposes; maximize the dissemination of up-to-date information on the appropriate and proper use of antibiotics to the general public and human and animal healthcare providers; and improve international coordination of efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.