FDA Recommends New Limits on Livestock Drugs

Publication: Reuters

Author: Charles Abbott


06/28/2010 - To prevent development of drug-resistant bacteria that could infect people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended on Monday that livestock farmers use the drugs solely to cure or prevent disease in animals, phasing out their use to promote growth.

FDA said research showed mixing antibiotics in livestock rations or feedlot water supplies "is not in the interest of protecting or promoting public health." Over-the-counter antibiotics have been routinely used for decades to promote livestock growth and feed efficiency.

Emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a serious public health threat, said FDA, so it is looking for ways to reduce overuse of the drugs.

Antibiotics including penicillin and tetracyclines should be used only under the supervision of veterinarians to prevent or treat illness in livestock, FDA said in its 19-page draft.

FDA made its recommendations in a first-round version of a "guidance" document, which represents the agency's current thinking on an issue. Guidance does not carry the weight of law but generally is adopted by industry.

"We're not expecting people to pick up this guidance and change their practice tomorrow," Deputy FDA Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein told reporters.

"This is the first step in the FDA establishing the principles from which we could then move, if necessary, toward other mechanisms of oversight, which is regulation," he said.

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"It doesn't say when or how, but that's at least a small step in the right direction," said Laura Rogers of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.

Read the full article, FDA Recommends New Limits on Livestock Drugs on Reuters' Web site.

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