March 5, 2015


US bill seeks withdrawal of animal antibiotics at 'risk of abuse'



A bill seeking to combat the overuse of medically important antibiotics in animals has been filed in the US Senate.


Under the Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2015 introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins on Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be required to withdraw its approval of medically important antibiotics used for disease prevention or control that are at high risk of abuse, unless the producer of the drug can demonstrate that its use in agriculture does not pose a risk to human health.


The proposed law states that antibiotics that meet the standard for disease prevention and control uses would be issued a revised label that supports prudent antibiotic use.


The bill addresses a gap in the guidelines issued by the FDA in December 2013, which called on the industry to eliminate the use of antibiotics for the purpose of making animals gain weight.


The FDA estimates that 107 antibiotics used for disease prevention or control have an unrestricted use for any period of time, or are labelled for continuous use. The Pew Charitable Trusts also estimates that 83 antibiotics have an overlapping dose with a production use, and have high risk of being inappropriately administered, posing a risk to human health.


'Public health threat'


"Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health threats we face and we need a comprehensive response to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics", Feinstein said.


"While FDA took an important step to reduce antibiotic overuse in agriculture, we need to do more. Our bill would ensure that antibiotics approved to treat disease are not used inappropriately. I am pleased that farmers and veterinarians are working to adopt FDA rules and I hope they will collaborate on this important piece of legislation", she added.


For her part, co-author of the bill Senator Collins said, "Antibiotic-resistant bacteria remains a dangerous risk to human health and efforts to ensure that antibiotics are used appropriately in food animals to protect public health remain important.  Our bill would build on efforts by the FDA to reduce antibiotic overuse in food animals, through the voluntary policy to eliminate approved growth-promoting uses and improving veterinary oversight, by helping to ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics for preventing and controlling disease in food animal production."


According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing health threats facing the world today.


Antibiotic resistance "threatens to return us to the time when simple infections were often fatal", the CDC said.


The American Public Health Association, the Infectious Disease Society of America, Trust for America's Health, the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Pew Charitable Trusts have endorsed the Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act.

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