Yesterday, a federal magistrate ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move ahead with a decades-old effort to withdraw approvals for several uses of antibiotics considered “critically important” to human health by the World Health Organization. This is a solid win for public health advocates and comes as FDA has proven unwilling to take seriously the threat of antibiotic resistance.
In 1977, FDA proposed withdrawing approvals for the use of penicillin antibiotics for growth promotion and the use of several tetracycline antibiotics in animal feed. Research showed then—more than three decades ago—that these uses were likely to select for antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans. Unfortunately, lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and animal agricultural industries persuaded Congress to delay the restrictions pending additional research. FDA did more research but took no further action for the next 34 years. Read More >
Leadership at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it abundantly clear last week that the low-dose usage of antibiotics in food animals, simply to promote growth or improve feed efficiency, needlessly contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and poses a serious threat to public health. Despite the fact that the FDA is taking a hard-line stance on the issue, I find it frustrating to see that the agency appears to be hamstrung from taking the necessary steps to mandate industry end the risky practice. Even more exasperating is that it appears that the FDA may actually relax a current directive that already regulates antibiotic use. However, unlike many critics, I don’t believe that this is an example of the Obama administration buckling under industry pressure. Rather, I view it as a loud and stern call for Congress to take action. Producers concerned more about profit than protecting public health are not going to cut their dependence on non-therapeutic antibiotic use in food animals unless lawmakers pass strict legislation.
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