FDA Says Antibiotic Use in Animals Threatens Human Health

As we have long written, overuse and misuse of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">antibiotics is believed to make germs stronger as the germs learn to fight the effects of the drugs. Now, WebMD writes that dosing animals with antibiotics—a practice used to expand food production—should be stopped.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) use of antibiotics in animals is posing a threat to human health, noting that it has the power to place a ban on this type of antibiotic use, wrote WebMD. To start, the agency will be put in place “draft guidance” in the hopes industry will make changes voluntarily. WebMD noted that the guidance would become FDA policy following a 60-day public comment period.

WebMD also wrote that the guidance is based on two principles, that animals only be given antibiotics for healing purposes and that veterinarians monitor all antibiotic use in food animals. The FDA pointed out that it has no problem with antibiotics being used to treat animals in need of care, explained WebMD.

FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, MD, called the practice of giving food animals antibiotics on a large scale a public health issue, noting that this practice urges drug-resistant bacteria to propagate and creates difficult-to-treat diseases in humans, wrote WebMD. “We are seeing the emergence of multi-drug-resistant pathogens,” Dr. Sharfstein said at a news conference, quoted WebMD. “FDA believes overall weight of evidence supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes is not appropriate.”

Food manufacturers tend to give antibiotics to food animals so that they either gain weight more quickly or gain more weight from what they are eating, a practice the FDA wants to see halted.

Sharfstein said the voluntary guidelines are hoped to provoke industry to make changes without the agency having to change regulations, said WebMD. “We are not expecting people to change tomorrow. This is the first step in FDA establishing principles from which we could move to other steps, such as oversight,” Sharfstein said, quoted WebMD. “This does not tell people what to do, it establishes principles and tells people how to achieve those principles,” added Sharfstein.

We previously wrote that a large study found a link between medication use in urinary tract infections and birth defects. Another study found that Acinetobacter—a very resistant bacterium—appears to be thriving in hospitals nationwide, with an excess of a 300-percent increase in cases of Acinetobacter resistant to Primaxin (generic: Imipenem). The infections are not always cured with the most powerful of antibiotics.

The improper use of the disinfectant benazlkonium chloride could cause some germs to develop antibiotic resistance. The disinfectant is found in an array of products including skin cleansers and face creams, spermicides, and some disinfectant products.

Another study found a stark coincidence between MRSA—methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus—and the antibiotic, clindamycin, said The Associated Press previously; a problem, because MRSA is becoming resistant to the antibiotic. A large number of infections are due to drug-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, which end up costing more because of the limited amount of medications that work against drug-resistant infections, said Reuters previously. According to 2005 CDC figures, nearly 19,000 people died in the U.S. from MRSA infections; 94,000 were seriously sickened.

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