FDA addresses antibiotic resistance
Chris Brunner, December 12, 2013
In a December 11 press release, the FDA outlined its plan to phase out the use of certain antibiotics for enhanced food production. In a nutshell, implementation of this guidance over the next three years will eliminate unnecessary production-use of antibiotics. In addition the plan will place the use of medically important antibiotics in feed under the supervision of veterinarians. For the first time the use of medically important antibiotics in feed will be exclusively under the purview of veterinarians.
Historically some antibiotics have been added to livestock feed or drinking water to increase feed efficiency and weight gain. The use of antimicrobial drugs in either animals or humans, however, may contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance. The use of these should be reserved for medically necessary treatments.
The guidance calls for voluntary phasing out of all sub-therapeutic antibiotic approvals, i.e. those drug approvals used for production purposes such as weight gain. This phasing out of this class of approvals is projected to occur over three years. For the remaining therapeutic uses in food animals the guidance calls for oversight by a veterinarian.
This guideline further expands the important role that veterinarians play in both animal and public health.
The animal health industry (drug manufacturers) collectively supports this action, as non-antibiotic alternatives for enhances production (ionophores) will continue to be available and the action preserves important therapeutic uses.
This is a win-win-win for consumers, regulators and the livestock industries. It is the result of close consultation by the agency, consumer advocates, scientific researchers, veterinary experts and the collective livestock industries. This collaborative, stakeholder approach was and is important to ensure that changes can be implemented effectively, while still avoiding the unintended consequences.