FDA and animal pharmaceutical companies work to lessen use of antibiotics for growth enhancement

In late 2011, the FDA released a guidance document to help animal pharmaceutical companies “voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency indicators from the approved uses of their medically important antimicrobial drug products.”

[“FDA is issuing a final guidance document that explains how animal pharmaceutical companies can work with the agency to voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency indications from the approved uses of their medically important antimicrobial drug products, and move the therapeutic uses of these products from over-the-counter (OTC) availability to marketing status requiring veterinary oversight. Once manufacturers voluntarily make these changes, the affected products can then only be used in food-producing animals to treat, prevent or control disease under the order of or by prescription from a licensed veterinarian…Flynn explains that the final guidance document made participation voluntary because it is the fastest, most efficient way to make these changes. FDA has been working with associations that include those representing drug companies, the feed industry, producers of beef, pork and turkey, as well as veterinarians and consumer groups. “Based on our outreach, we have every reason to believe that animal pharmaceutical companies will support us in this effort," says Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.”] (First source, US FDA Consumer Updates)

Within about two years, twenty-six major manufacturers of livestock antibiotics had voluntarily agreed to remove promotion of animal growth as a valid use for their antibiotics on their labels. Once those label appear, farmers would be breaking the law if they were to use these antibiotics without a veterinarian’s prescription based on actual threat of disease or evidence of sickness.

["On the farming front, the Food and Drug Administration had already started a voluntary plan among drug producers that could end almost all use of antibiotics by farmers and ranchers to enhance the growth of food animals. All 26 major manufacturers of antibiotics for livestock have agreed to change their labels to eliminate the promotion of animal growth as a valid use. Once they do so, it will be illegal to use antibiotics for that purpose. Antibiotics can still be used to treat sick animals, or prevent disease in animals, if administered under orders from a veterinarian. The F.D.A. will need to make sure that veterinarians do not dole out prescriptions for healthy animals to curry favor with the ranchers and farmers who pay them.”] (Second source, NYTimes article)

Phasing Out Certain Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration Consumer Updates, December 11, 2013, accessed September 30, 2014, http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378100.htm.

Editorial Board, “A New Attack on Antibiotic Resistance,” New York Times, September 30, 2014, accessed September 30, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/opinion/a-new-attack-on-antibiotic-res....: 1995-2014, accessed June 22, 2016), https://farm.ewg.org/region.php?fips=00000&progcode=total&yr=2014.

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