WASHINGTON - Laura Rogers, project director of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, issued the following statement today on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) draft guidance on "The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals."
"Today's announcement is a small step toward controlling the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production. The FDA's acknowledgement that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion is not judicious is overdue but welcome. However, key questions remain about the agency's intent and direction with regard to next steps.
"The FDA should define and regulate what constitutes judicious use. The authorization for the therapeutic use of antibiotics should be limited to treatment of sick animals, in cases that have been diagnosed and documented by a veterinarian. As it currently stands, the agency's attempt to define appropriate therapeutic uses of antibiotics in food animal production may actually create a loophole, jeopardizing effectiveness of the drugs in humans and animals.
"Every day that the FDA delays implementing effective and unambiguous regulations to curtail the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production, the risks to the American people increase. Since this is only suggested guidance, it is unclear how this will lessen the burden of antibiotic resistance. Hopefully, the agency now will move expeditiously toward the issuance of regulations that will once and for all control the widespread use of antibiotics on industrial farms.
"In the meantime, Congress need not and should not wait for the FDA. Lawmakers should take swift action to pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA, H.R. 1549, S. 619), which would withdraw the routine use of seven classes of antibiotics vitally important to human health from food animal production unless animals or herds are sick with disease or unless drug companies can prove that their use does not harm human health."