FDA releases report on antibiotic use in food-producing animals

Cow_Injection_LowRes_PublicDomain_blogThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its latest annual report summarizing the amount of antimicrobials sold or distributed in 2012 for use in food-producing animals. According to a recently published article in Drovers Cattle Network, below are the trends reflected in this year’s summary report:

  • A 16% increase was seen in the total quantity of medically important antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals during 2009-2012. According to the article, “the reason for the increase is unclear, but many factors (such as disease outbreaks and fluctuations in animal populations) could lead to transient increases or decreases of sales of certain drugs in given years.”
  • A 4% decrease (from 72% to 68%) was seen in the percentage of domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials. As stated in the article, “this number does not represent sales and distribution of drugs solely used for production because most of these products are approved for therapeutic (disease treatment, control or prevention) uses as well.”
  • Very little change (a decrease from 98% to 97%) was recorded in the percentage of domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials sold over-the-counter (OTC).

The report is from data gathered based on section 105 of the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments of 2008 (ADUFA 105) that requires antimicrobial drug sponsors to report the amount of antimicrobial drugs they sell or distribute for use in food-producing animals each year to the FDA. However, the sales and distribution data does not represent how the drugs are actually used, nor is the data broken out by species.

In response to the report, Dr. David Wallinga, director of the organization Healthy Food Action and a member of the Keep Antibiotics Working steering committee, was quoted in a recent article as saying:

“While we’re pleased FDA finally released these 2012 data, providing more detail than ever before, the overall trends are alarming: Antibiotic use in food animals continues to rise every year, and use of some of the most important human drugs is going up the fastest. Year on year, the amount of medically important antibiotics used in food animal production keeps rising (up 16% since 2009). Antibiotic use in U.S. livestock is huge and continues to escalate, even while many leading meat exporting countries have halved their livestock usage.”

In addition, Guidance 213, published last year by the FDA, asks but does not require drug producers to remove product label indications for growth promotion. Because of this, farmers are still allowed to use these drugs for disease prevention, which is causing concern with food safety experts who believe that this will contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

As part of the same guidance however, animal drug sponsors must bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products under the oversight of a veterinarian by December 2016. According to Drovers, once these changes are made it will become illegal to use these drugs for production or therapeutic purposes without veterinary oversight.

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