Judge's Move Pushes FDA on Antibiotic Use

A New York federal judge ruled last week that the agency must address overuse of non-therapeutic antibiotics.

Published on: Mar 27, 2012

In responding to a lawsuit filed in May by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and other groups, a New York judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must address the overuse of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock.

In a press statement, UCS says: "The judge’s decision requires the FDA to withdraw existing approvals for the growth promoting use in animal agriculture of two antibiotics - penicillin and tetracyclines. The sponsors of the drugs have the right to contest the withdrawals in an evidentiary hearing, but will bear the burden of proving that continued use is safe."

CHANGING PRACTICES: New York judges move may, or may not, speed end of sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics.
CHANGING PRACTICES: New York judge's move may, or may not, speed end of sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics.

Feedstuffs reports that the Animal Health Institute notes that the decision by a district court judge ordering the Food & Drug Administration to move forward with an administrative process on antibiotic use "could unfortunately delay the process of eliminating the sub-therapeutic (growth promotion) use of medically important antibiotics," the Animal Health Institute (AHI) said March 23.

In a press statement, AHI adds: " For more than two years FDA has clearly articulated its goal of eliminating subtherapeutic use and extending veterinary oversight using a collaborative, stakeholder process.  That process is moving ahead and additional guidance documents implementing those goals are expected to be published any day. FDA has said the collaborative, stakeholder process is a more efficient way of achieving these goals than the process being forced by the court.  It is unfortunate that time and resources will now be diverted to responding to the court decision."

About 80 percent of all antibiotics in America are used in livestock in order to speed up their growth or preempt diseases caught from cramped living conditions. Recently, doctors have discovered that certain antibiotic-resistant bacteria that infect humans have developed drug resistance in livestock--something that the Centers for Disease Control and some researchers had warned for years would happen.