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Call for FDA Report on Additional Data on Antibiotic Usage

11 November 2013, at 6:42am

US – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been urged by Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter and the Pew Charitable Trusts to collect and report additional data on antibiotic usage on the farm.

Currently, the FDA is only required to collect and report on the total number of kilograms sold for use in animals for several classes of antibiotics.

However, both Rep Slaughter and Pew argue that more data is required in order to properly respond to the growing antibiotic resistance crisis caused by overuse of antibiotics on the farm.

“The FDA has an essential duty to protect our antibiotics and, concurrently, public health,” Rep Slaughter said.

“Since 1977, when the FDA concluded that feeding penicillin and tetracyclines to farm animals could promote antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in both the animals and humans, the FDA has taken no action to stop antibiotic use on the farm, and has failed in its duty.

“We are seeing today what Alexander Fleming, the man who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin, warned against: overusing antibiotics until they are no longer effective, destroying the most valuable tool we have for fighting infections.”

In her comment, the congresswoman specifically requests two new pieces of information from the FDA:

that the amounts of medically important antibiotics, grouped by antibiotic drug class or mechanism of action be broken down by administration location and the amount of antibiotic used per month.

that the antibiotics be broken down by target species, route of administration (e.g. feed, water, or injection), and intended use (e.g. in disease treatment, disease prevention, or growth promotion).

Rep. Slaughter has argued that that 80 per cent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are sold to agricultural interests.

She says that this figure has been, confirmed by the independent fact-checking outfit PolitiFact.

Rep Slaughter has also authored legislation with Rep. Henry Waxman of California to require the FDA to report additional data.

The Pew Charitable Trusts, which has been active in the push to save antibiotics for human use, also weighed in with a comment to the FDA.

“The collection and public distribution of this information is critical to slow the spread of resistant infections,” Gail Hansen of Pew wrote in a comment to the FDA.

“By making agricultural antibiotic use more transparent, the FDA can guide the development of precise policies that protect human and animal health.”

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