As part of his budget request for 2016, President Barack Obama will ask the US Congress to double the amount of federal funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion.

The cash would be used  to “improve antibiotic stewardship”, strengthen resistance risk assessment, surveillance, and reporting capabilities, plus “drive research innovation in the human health and agricultural sectors”, the White House says.

Specifically, more than $650 million will go to the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority “to significantly expand America’s investments in development of antibacterial and new rapid diagnostics, and to launch a large scale effort to characterise drug resistance”.

Earlier this year, NIH-supported scientists developed a novel technique for extracting powerful antibiotics from soil, including teixobactin, the first new antibiotic to be discovered in more than 25 years and the raised budget “ increases support for this kind of innovative research and discovery”, the White House added.

Some $47 million will go to the US Food and Drug Administration to support evaluation of new antibacterial drugs “and antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the USA alone.  Antibiotic-resistant infections account for at least $20 billion in excess direct health care costs, the CDC says, and up to $35 billion in lost productivity due to hospitalizations and sick days each year.