FDA May Limit Antibiotic Use in Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">antibiotics for livestock should only be used to cure or prevent disease; the drugs are frequently used as a growth promoter, said Principal deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, reported Reuters.

By implementing restrictions on antibiotic use on livestock, the opportunity for bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance would likely be stemmed, Reuters pointed out. Many critics of antibiotic overuse and abuse say that the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as is found in Salmonella, E. coli, and MRSA, is directly related to the trend in over-prescribing the drugs; in food borne pathogenic illnesses, the trend is allegedly linked to antibiotic use in feed animals.

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates, says Reuters, that the vast majority—70 percent—of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on food animals, adding that the drugs are prescribed in small doses to induce weight gain or prompt improved feed consumption.

In a statement for a House hearing, Sharfstein said, “Purposes other than for the advancement of animal or human health should not be considered judicious use” and not allowed … “Eliminating these uses will not compromise the safety of food. FDA also believes that the use of medications for prevention and control should be under the supervision of a veterinarian,” quoted Reuters. In other words over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotics could be prohibited to farmers and ranchers.

Sharfstein later explained to reporters that his testimony was a statement of FDA principles, not an official position on a bill to phase out nontherapeutic antibiotic use in livestock, said Reuters. The bill notes seven classes of antibiotics: Penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides, lincosamides, streptogramins, aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, as well as drugs used to treat human bacterial illness in people, reported Reuters, which explained that identical “phase-out” bills were filed in the House and Senate in mid-March.

According to the FDA, two million Americans develop bacterial infections during hospital stays annually, with 70 percent resistant to at least one antibiotic, said Reuters.

We have been covering the media attention focused on the issue of medications turning up in waterways all over the world. The problem is emerging not only in the United States, but also in all of North America, Europe, and East Asia, according to a recent investigation published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

It seems that antibiotics, antimicrobials, and antifungals are making their way into the environment and waterways as a result of consumption via human and agriculture use, according to Science Daily previously. “Their potential contribution to the spread of anti-infective resistance in bacteria and other effects on aquatic biota is a cause for concern,” said senior author Sébastien Sauvé, quoted Science Daily.

In March, we wrote about how pharmaceuticals, in addition to being found in our waterways, were found to be contaminating fish, which points to both environmental jeopardy and an additional route in which medications can work their way into our bodies. For example, in India, researchers found that an astounding 100 pounds of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin enters a river there daily from a wastewater treatment plant that services dozens of drug makers.

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