By: Erin Burns
The Peggy Lillis Foundation for C. diff Education & Advocacy held our 7th Annual National C. diff Advocacy Summit both in person and virtually on May 2. This year’s Summit had a variety of passionate speakers and panelists committed to C. diff education, antimicrobial stewardship, and patient advocacy. The Summit provides the only opportunity for C. diff advocates to connect with clinicians, researchers, and industry representatives.
The lineup of unique presenters kicked off with opening remarks from Peggy Lillis Foundation Executive Director, Christian John Lillis who spoke about the ongoing crisis we face with C. diff. “Many of us have been harmed by a bacteria first identified in the 1970s. Nearly 50 years later, progress has been minimal.” Christian was followed by writer and activist Kenyon Farrow speaking on the topic “Lessons from the HIV Movement: Communicating for Health Justice” which focused on the lack of communication about public health. “The hesitancy towards vaccines and new treatment is partly because we have invested ZERO in explaining to people how the science works.”
Next up was Dr. Julie Reagan, PhD of New Mexico State University. Dr. Reagan’s teaching and research focus on health policy and management, health law, public health law, and health care administration. She is a nationally recognized expert in the field of healthcare-associated infection reporting laws. Dr. Reagan spoke on the topic “State Law Mandates for Reporting C. diff: a Ten Year Review.” Her speech focused on the research she has done to show the improvements of C. diff reporting mandates over the last 10 years and where progress still needs to be made. “In the last ten years, the number of states reporting healthcare acquired C. diff has grown to 34 states and I’m really excited and proud to see that.” This is a huge jump from the mere 5 states in 2010. Although there is still progress to be made, she is hopeful that advocacy groups like Peggy Lillis Foundation will help to bring mandatory, public reporting to all 50 states.
We also heard from several of our partners in industry on a variety of topics related to C. diff treatment, testing, and recovery including:
- Novel Antibiotic Treatment CRS3123 for primary and first recurrence CDI
- Speaker: Dr. Katie Johnson, MD of Crestone, Inc.
- Microbiota and Microbiota Restoration for Recurrent C. diff Infections
- Speaker: Dr. Ken Blount, PhD of Rebiotix, Inc.
- The Importance of C. difficile Toxin Testing
- Speaker: Dr. David Lyerly, PhD co-found of TechLab
Summit attendees also had the chance to hear from two different panel discussions. Guideline methodologist Malavika Tampi, MPH and Dr. Tim Dawson, PhD spoke on “The Role of Patient Advocates in Guideline Development.” Moderator Kevin Brennan of Bluebird Strategies along with speakers Emily Wheeler of BIO, Anna Hyde of the Arthritis Foundation, and PLF Advocate Maryann Webb led an important discussion on “Access to New Treatments and Preventatives for C. diff Patients.” Summit attendees had the opportunity to hear multiple perspectives and ask the speakers questions.
To round out the diverse agenda, we had two separate speakers with topics related to avoiding a C. diff infection. Dr. Joan Hardin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and C. diff survivor. She spoke on the topic “How to Avoid Getting a C. difficile Infection – and COVID, too.” As both a clinician and a survivor, she brought a unique and relatable perspective when speaking with advocates. Dr. Deborah Goff, PharmD of Ohio State University spoke on the topic “New Antibiotic Guidance for Dentists.” Dr. Goff is an Infectious Disease clinical pharmacist with over 30 years of experience and has made it a mission of hers to educate Dentists on antibiotic stewardship. “If each patient with a joint implant visits a dentist twice a year for teeth cleaning and receives an antibiotic prophylaxis, this represents a potential 3.8 million prescriptions per year, all of which the ADA states are unnecessary.”
Overall, the Summit was a great success. Advocates, staff, and industry partners were all thrilled to be able to meet and hug each other in person after a two year hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you weren’t able to join us or would just like a refresher, you can find a full recording of the Summit on the Peggy Lillis Foundation YouTube page. We look forward to coming together again next year!