FDA Urged to Curb Overuse of Antibiotics in Animals

Michele Late

Nations Health. 2005;35(5) 

Citing the dangers of antibiotic resistance in humans, APHA and other national groups called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April to ban seven classes of antibiotics from use in animal feed.

According to a petition filed with FDA on April 7, the antibiotics should be banned in animals because their use fails to comply with FDA safety standards. While agency guidance states that drugs that are highly important to treating human disease should not be extensively used in agriculture, the seven classes of antibiotics -- which include critical drug types such as penicillins and tetracyclines -- are used to treat entire herds or flocks.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, about 70 percent of antibiotics used annually are fed to livestock and poultry to promote growth and prevent diseases caused by overcrowded, unhygienic conditions. More than half of the antibiotics are the same as -- or are related to -- those used in humans, leading to concerns that such drugs could become useless in treating people.

The petition came as bipartisan legislation was introduced in Congress on the issue. Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act into the Senate on April 7.

The legislation, known as S. 742, would ban eight classes of antibiotics from being used in animal feed.

For information, visit www.environmentaldefense.org/go/antibiotics . For more news from The Nation's Health, visit www.thenationshealth.org .

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