FDA is implementing a voluntary plan to phase out the use of certain antibiotics in food production. The move is a result of the major public health threat of antibiotic resistance. Drug resistant bacteria kill at least 23,000 people in the U.S. each year and cost our health care system $20 billion. FDA is focused on phasing out “medically important” antibiotics in food producing animals for production uses like enhancing growth and improving food efficiency.
“We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them,” says William Flynn, DVM, MS, deputy director for science policy at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). “Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down.”
FDA is issuing a guidance that explains how animal pharmaceutical companies can work with the agency to voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency indications from approved uses for "medically important" antimicrobial drug products.
“This action promotes the judicious use of important antimicrobials, which protects public health and, at the same time, ensures that sick and at-risk animals receive the therapy they need,” says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. “We realize that these steps represent changes for veterinarians and animal producers, and we have been working to make this transition as seamless as possible.”
The guidance is voluntary because the agency believes it’s the fastest most efficient means of getting something done.
"Based on our outreach, we have every reason to believe that animal pharmaceutical companies will support us in this effort," says Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
Antibiotics have been taken for granted as much as running water and toilets, over prescribed and given in low doses to livestock to fatten them up and stave off disease caused by their nasty living conditions. In fact, 80 percent of all antibiotics are unnecessarily fed to livestock, which becomes the breeding ground for such resistance.