Citing Drug Resistance, U.S. Restricts More Antibiotics for Livestock

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Gardiner Harris

01/04/2012 - Federal drug regulators announced on Wednesday that farmers and ranchers must restrict their use of a critical class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys because such practices may have contributed to the growing threat in people of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment.

The medicines are known as cephalosporins and include brands like Cefzil and Keflex. They are among the most common antibiotics prescribed to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and skin and urinary tract infections. Surgeons also often use them before surgery, and they are particularly popular among pediatricians.

The drugs’ use in agriculture has, according to many microbiologists, led to the development of bacteria that are resistant to their effects, a development that many doctors say has cost thousands of lives.


Cephalosporins are not used as widely in livestock as penicillin, since they require a prescription from veterinarians. But the drugs are routinely injected into broiler eggs and used in large doses to treat infections in cattle and other animals.

The new rule will restrict only some of these uses and is therefore a modest step that, while applauded by consumer advocates, led many to call for far tougher measures.

“This is particularly important because cephalosporins are so important to human health, but it’s only a first step,” said Laura Rogers of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has advocated restricting agricultural uses of antibiotics.


Read the full article, Citing Drug Resistance, U.S. Restricts More Antibiotics for Livestock, on the New York Times' Web site.

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