Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to the livestock, drug and medical communities on what it termed the “judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.”
Although FDA guidance to industry is voluntary, the agency said a voluntary approach is a recognition of the “need to collaborate” with all parties and not disrupt animal health or the agricultural industry. FDA said it will monitor the effectiveness of its voluntary strategy for three years and determine whether further regulatory action is needed at that time.
The public health issue FDA is trying to address is the growth of antimicrobial resistance in animals as well as humans. Once animals or humans develop a resistance to an antibiotic various illnesses or infections may no longer be cured by that drug. A focus of the new guidance to producers, drug makers and veterinarians is that antimicrobials or antibiotics should only be used when medically necessary. On some farms, especially in so-called factory farms, antibiotics are added to animal feed to promote faster growth and prevent infections among livestock when no illness exists. Essentially, FDA would like to see these drugs used only when vets believe they are necessary to stop infection or illness and for drug companies to not promote antibiotics for animal growth or most preventive uses.
Three documents were published to the Federal Register outlining FDA’s action. You can read them by following the links:
- The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals (Guidance #209)
- Guidance for public comment on seeking drug companies to voluntarily revise product labels (Guidance #213)
- 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.