FDA Unmoved by Antibiotic Ban Pleas, Evidence

US - The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied a pair of long-pending petitions from consumer and other groups to limit the use of several antibiotics in farm animals, saying a voluntary approach the agency proposed last year will lead to more 'judicious use' of the drugs in agriculture.
calendar icon 28 November 2011
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According to CIDRAP, the petitions were filed in 1999 and 2005 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) along with several environmental and medical organisations. They asked the FDA to cancel its approval of the 'herdwide and flockwide' uses of several classes of antibiotics for promoting growth and preventing disease (in the absence of existing disease) in chickens, swine and beef cattle, out of concern that such use will spur resistance and reduce the drugs' effectiveness in humans.

The petitioners have voiced disappointment with the FDA action, saying the agency's voluntary approach will not work.

In separate letters denying the two petitions, the FDA said the legal process necessary to withdraw approval of a drug is expensive and slow and that the voluntary strategy the agency unveiled in 2010 should lead to improved use of the antibiotics in food animals.

However, in a review study, researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine zero in on the controversial, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals and fish farming as a cause of antibiotic resistance.

They report that the preponderance of evidence argues for stricter regulation of the practice.

Stuart Levy, a world-renowned expert in antibiotic resistance, said that a guiding tenet of public health, the precautionary principle, requires that steps be taken to avoid harm.

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