The Food and Drug Administration Wednesday announced it would implement a plan to phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals when used to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency.
The proposed plan, which would also phase in veterinary oversight of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses of such drugs, will be considered in a 90-day comment period starting Dec. 12 on the Federal Register.
According to an FDA statement, the decision comes in response to concerns that some antimicrobials used in livestock production are contributing to antibiotic resistance.
"This action promotes the judicious use of important antimicrobials to protect public health while ensuring that sick and at-risk animals receive the therapy they need," explained Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The plan specifically affects "medically important" antimicrobials – those that are important for treating human infections – and those that are approved for use in feed and water of food animals.
In a final guidance, the FDA issued a road map for animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved use conditions on the labels of these products.
The plan also calls for changing the current over-the-counter status to bring the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses under veterinary oversight. Once a manufacturer voluntarily makes these changes, FDA said, its medically important antimicrobial drugs can no longer be used for production purposes, and their use to treat, control, or prevent disease in animals will require veterinary oversight.