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FDA Seeks to Limit Antimicrobial Use in Animals

June 29, 2010

Beef Today Editors

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance intended to help reduce the development of resistance to medically important antimicrobial drugs used in food-producing animals.

The draft guidance outlines the FDA’s current thinking on strategies to assure that antimicrobial drugs that are important for therapeutic use in humans are used judiciously in animal agriculture. The FDA acknowledges the efforts to date by various veterinary and animal producer organizations to institute guidelines for the judicious use of antimicrobial drugs, but the agency believes additional steps are needed.

The draft guidance summarizes a number of published reports on antimicrobial resistance and states that the overall weight of evidence available to date supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth enhancing purposes (i.e., non-therapeutic or subtherapeutic uses) in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health.

The document recommends phasing in measures that would limit medically important antimicrobial drugs to uses in food-producing animals that are considered necessary for assuring animal health and that include veterinary oversight or consultation. These steps would help reduce overall use of medically important antimicrobial drugs, thereby reducing the pressure that generates antimicrobial resistance.

“Using medically important antimicrobial drugs as judiciously as possible is key to minimizing resistance development and preserving the effectiveness of these drugs as therapies for humans and animals,” said Bernadette Dunham, veterinarian and director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “FDA is committed to working with animal drug sponsors, the veterinary and public health communities, the animal agriculture community, and all other interested stakeholders in developing a practical strategy to address antimicrobial resistance concerns that is protective of both human and animal health.”

In a statement from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Chief Veterinarian Elizabeth Parker said that the organization will carefully review the draft guidance and the reports cited. "NCBA supports actions based only on sound, peer-reviewed science and risk assessment relative to the use of antibiotics. More clarity is needed in definitions related to many of the concepts in this document, and we look forward to continuing to provide input to FDA. 

"As FDA officials seek stakeholder input, we encourage them to go out and visit farms and ranches to see firsthand how our producers are utilizing antimicrobials and working with their veterinarians to keep cattle healthy and ensure safe and wholesome beef."

Source: FDA, NCBA

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