The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it recognizes the importance of antimicrobial drugs for addressing the health needs of animals. Antimicrobial drugs have been widely used in human and veterinary medicine for more than 50 years with benefits to both human and animal health.
However according to the FDA the development of resistance to these drugs and the resulting loss of their effectiveness poses a serious public health threat. While acknowledging the efforts by various veterinary and animal producer organizations to institute guidelines for the judicious use of antimicrobial drugs, FDA believes additional steps are needed. Therefore it has issued a draft guidance which states that the overall weight of evidence available supports the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth enhancing purposes in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting and promoting public health.
The document recommends phasing in measures that would limit use of drugs that are considered necessary for assuring animal health and that include veterinary oversight or consultation. Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, says using medically important antimicrobial drugs as judiciously as possible is key to minimizing resistance development and preserving the effectiveness of these drugs as therapies for humans and animals.
The National Pork Producers Council says it appears the FDA did not base its guidance on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production on science. NPPC says the guidance could eliminate antibiotics that are extremely important to the health of animals and have a tremendous negative impact on animal health and the safety of food. NPPC President Sam Carney notes healthy animals produce safe food and producers need every available tool to protect animal health.