Campaigners Petition President over Antibiotic Misuse

US - Campaign groups in the US have sent a petition signed by 795 health professionals to President Barack Obama, urging him to pressure the Food and Drug Administration to act to reduce the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animal production.
calendar icon 10 June 2013
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The groups, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), Healthy Food Action, and the Pew Charitable Trusts are concerned that the use overuse of antibiotics in feed will have a serious effect on the health of the population.

"Current patterns of antibiotic use in agriculture not only increase the risk of antibiotic-resistant infections in people but also support an agricultural system that harms public and environmental health," said Ted Schettler, MD, Science Director for the Science and Environmental Health Network and Science Advisor for HCWH.

The campaign groups claim that around 30 million pounds of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture and they say most are used for non-therapeutic purposes.

They add that many of the antibiotics are also medically important, and used to treat illnesses in humans.

“There is overwhelming scientific consensus that overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a health hazard to people,” said Dr Thomas Newman, a member of the faculty at the School of Medicine at University of California at San Francisco Medical Center.

More than 300 medical organisations in the US, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have advocated ending the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics as feed additives.

"The antibiotic resistance crisis is growing worse each day. Physicians are seeing more and more patients with antibiotic resistant infections in hospitals, and we are cleaning up our own act by curbing our own overuse of antibiotics in clinical practice,” said Dr Robert Gould, President of San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“As health professionals fundamentally concerned with the health of our patients, we urge President Obama to demonstrate his leadership on this issue by joining our demand that the livestock industry and the FDA promptly correct this serious threat to public health.”

The letter asks the President to pressure the FDA to move forward with mandatory withdrawals of unsafe uses of antibiotics, and to publicly report better data on livestock antibiotic sales to inform the public health community about emerging disease threats.

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