News / Health

US Regulators Limit Antibiotics in Livestock

Livestock huddle as they feed in an open field covered in ice, Dec. 7, 2013, near Corinth, Texas.
Livestock huddle as they feed in an open field covered in ice, Dec. 7, 2013, near Corinth, Texas.
U.S. regulators are asking drug companies to phase out the use of certain antibiotics intended to improve the growth of livestock.

Critics have long argued the practice is contributing to the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis.

Large-scale livestock farms around the world often use small doses of antibiotics to help healthy animals grow faster with less feed.

Public health experts say that encourages bacteria to evolve defenses, making the drugs less effective to fight infections.

The new measure would end that practice over the next three years.

It would require a veterinarian to write a prescription for all other uses.

“With these changes, there will be fewer approved uses, and the remaining uses will be under tighter control to minimize the impact on resistance,” says FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor.

Voluntary program

The changes are voluntary, which has some angered some of FDA’s critics.

Advocates have been pressing the agency for years to end the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.

But Taylor says this approach is faster than going through the lengthy and complicated regulatory process.

And FDA can still make the change mandatory if companies do not go along voluntarily, Taylor adds.

Physician Dimitri Drekonja with the medical association the Infectious Diseases Society of America says FDA’s action is a good first step.

“If this voluntary effort is taken up by the entire industry and everybody goes along with it, then it will actually be a needed first and potentially last step,” he added. “Now, will that happen? I have my doubts.”

Making changes

Some major drug companies have already agreed to make the changes, however.

National Pork Producers Council Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom says her industry is preparing to adjust.

“We may lose some efficiency,” Wagstrom says. “We may have some animals that may not grow quite as quickly or take more grain to reach their full weight.”

And they may see some more sick animals with the decline in antibiotic use, she says.

But she declined to put a price tag on the changes.

Measuring impact difficult

How the new policy affects the drug resistance problem may actually be hard to measure.

“It would be great if there was sort-of like a dashboard and you could watch the needle drop in the amount of antibiotics used and then watch the next gauge, which is the national resistance and see what happening there,” Drekonja says. “We don’t have two simple gauges like that.”

There is a real lack of good data on the amounts of antibiotics used on farms, as well as by doctors, he notes.

And others point out that some bacteria have remained resistant for years after certain antibiotics have been banned from animal use.

But with officials warning about an approaching post-antibiotic era, doctors say they have been taking steps to limit their use of these important drugs, and they say the livestock industry should, too.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
December 12, 2013 1:39 PM
It is the addition of antibiotic growth promotants in feeds that propelled the meat industry in the US for more than half a century. The idea of transmission of resistant disease producing bacteria from animals to human due to small amounts of antibiotics in the feed is insignificant, if at all it occurs. The resistance development of infectious bacteria in human is not because of small quantities of antibiotic in feed. Antibiotic resistance development in humans is due to the miss use of antibiotics by MDs who over-prescribe antibiotics for cold, fever and other minor conditions that does not require antibiotics.

The price of meat will increase, the diseases in animals will increase and the pharmaceutical companies will make more money with increased disease incidence in food animals. If the resistance development of human pathogenic bacteria is due to antibiotics in the feed of food animals, how come there is growing trend in the resistance development of drugs used for TB, AIDS and other diseases that are unique in humans? Any microbial will develop resistance to antibiotics due to short term or long term use.

The antibiotic resistance is further enhanced by the patients who do not undergo the medication regimen. Blaming the antibiotic growth promotants in feeds as the cause of antibiotic resistance development in humans is too far fetched by the warriors of bureaucracy in the FDA. Why the FDA want to implement the banning of antibiotic growth promotants in feeds through the back door circumventing the normal procedures?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid