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FDA introduces strategy to reduce overuse of antibiotics in animals grown for food

The US FDA has announced a strategy to phase out production uses of medically-important antimicrobials and provide that they be used only for targeted, FDA-approved animal health purposes under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Many animal producers already work this way, and according to Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA, the agency hopes this strategy will make judicious use of antimicrobials standard practice throughout the industry.

In developing the strategy, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has consulted extensively with the US Dept of Agriculture, the agricultural and veterinary communities, the animal drug and feed industries, and with public health and consumer advocates.

And, as a result of that work, the FDA has released three documents that outline a collaborative approach to keeping antimicrobials effective by limiting their food animal use to specific medical needs.

First, the FDA has published a final guidance for industry on “The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals.” This document establishes a framework for phasing out the use of these drugs for feed efficiency or growth promotion and phasing in veterinary consultation or oversight of their medical uses in food-producing animals.

Second, the FDA is asking for public comments on a draft guidance to drug companies on how to revise their FDA-approved product labels for medically important antimicrobial drugs to no longer include use for feed efficiency or growth promotion, and include veterinary oversight or consultation.

And third, the FDA has published a draft proposed regulation, also for public comment, to streamline and modernize the current regulation that governs veterinary authorization for the use of certain drugs in animal feed.

“In implementing our strategy, we want to avoid adverse impacts on animal health and disruptions to the agricultural industry. We anticipate that the phase out of production uses of antimicrobials and establishment of veterinary oversight of remaining ones will take three years. For that reason, in the draft guidance to drug companies we are proposing this timeframe for implementation. We intend to monitor progress after the three-year timeframe has elapsed to evaluate the rate of adoption of these changes,” said Taylor.

Concerns about the use of antimicrobial drugs in humans and food-producing animals have been on FDA’s agenda for many years. According to Taylor, this strategy is designed to protect and promote the health of the American public while minimising disruption to animal health and the animal agriculture industry.

Editorial: Antibiotics in food an urgent issue

Monterey County Herald – The US Food and Drug Administration once again took timid steps last week to address the danger posed to human health by the use of antibiotic drugs in food-animal production. The FDA has taken this go-slow approach for nearly four decades. In the meantime, the agency — caught between science and duty on one side and the crushing political muscle of Big Farm and Big Pharma on the other — has allowed the danger to grow. The problem arises from two related phenomena. Read more….

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