The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it is taking three steps to protect public health and promote the judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria or other microbes develop the ability to resist the effects of a drug. Once this occurs, a drug may no longer be as effective in treating various illnesses or infections.
Because it is well established that all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary.
Based on a consideration of relevant reports and scientific data, the FDA is proposing a voluntary initiative to phase in certain changes to how medically important antimicrobial drugs are labeled and used in food-producing animals.
The FDA is taking this action to help preserve the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobials for treating disease in humans.
Today, the FDA is issuing three documents that will help veterinarians, farmers, and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously in food-producing animals by targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems.
Under this new voluntary initiative, certain antibiotics would not be used for so-called production purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. These antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control, or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.
“It is critical that we take action to protect public health,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective. We are also reaching out to animal producers who operate on a smaller scale or in remote locations to help ensure the drugs they need to protect the health of their animals are still available.”
The FDA is publishing three documents today in the Federal Register.
- A final guidance for industry, The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals, that recommends phasing out the agricultural production use of medically important drugs and phasing in veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of these drugs.
- A draft guidance, open for public comment, which will assist drug companies in voluntarily removing production uses of antibiotics from their FDA-approved product labels; adding, where appropriate, scientifically-supported disease prevention, control, and treatment uses; and changing the marketing status to include veterinary oversight.
- A draft proposed Veterinary Feed Directive regulation, open for public comment, that outlines ways that veterinarians can authorize the use of certain animal drugs in feed, which is important to make the needed veterinary oversight feasible and efficient.
“USDA worked with the FDA to ensure that the voices of livestock producers across the country were taken into account,” says Dr. John Clifford, USDA chief veterinary medical officer, “and we will continue to collaborate with the FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and livestock groups to ensure that the appropriate services are available to help make this transition.”