April 12, 2012
Washington, DC--Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released several documents relating to the judicious use of antimicrobials in food producing animals. These documents confirm the agency’s commitment to pursuing voluntary limits on the use of antibiotics rather than mandatory regulation-based restrictions. The agency has stated that withdrawing the approval of each type of antibiotics would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming.
“While we recognize the budgetary constraints facing the agency, we are concerned that a voluntary approach to reducing antibiotics in livestock will not be an effective mechanism for protecting public health,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL.
Draft guidance proposes a three year timeline during which drug companies would change the way they market and label these antibiotics. The result would be a new system where veterinarians are more involved in prescribing antibiotics, many of which are currently available over the counter.
“We support the agency’s goal of reducing non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics,” said Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety and Nutrition Fellow. “We are just not convinced that a voluntary system, in which companies have the option not to engage in reform, is going to achieve this goal.”
The main reason FDA is pursuing this goal is that the overuse of antibiotics amongst livestock has been shown to contribute to the rise of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance means that doctors are forced to use different drugs to treat illnesses, drugs that may be less effective or have more pronounced side effects.
“Given how important it is to preserve these antibiotics for use in humans, we are disappointed that FDA has not taken a more aggressive stance,” Greenberg said. “Reducing antibiotic resistance and maintaining the efficacy of these important drugs should be FDA’s ultimate goal. We believe this goal would be better achieved through mandatory measures.”
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.