The chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says producers should start preparing for the loss of production uses of antibiotics in swine production.

“We are expecting in the next 3-5 years that the pork industry will lose growth promotion labels for most of the antibiotics used in swine medicine,” declares Liz Wagstrom, DVM. “We firmly believe those labels will be gone so get ready.”

She says in a recent interview at World Pork Expo that producers should also get ready for a closer working relationship with their swine veterinarian because virtually all of the remaining uses of antibiotics in swine feed will fall under the Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Feed Directive as part of FDA’s Guidance #209. That Guidance says growth promotion uses of any antibiotics used in human medicine are injudicious and therapeutic uses must be under veterinary oversight.

FDA is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Veterinary Medical Association to assist smaller producers who live in remote areas who may not have ready access to veterinary care. Listening sessions are being proposed.

FDA’s draft Guidance #213 is aimed at animal health manufacturers to provide them information on steps to move antibiotic growth promotion claims to disease prevention claims. Drug companies have given no public indication they will move in this direction, Wagstrom says. That proposal is expected to be finalized in the next 9-12 months.

Wagstrom cautions producers need to be aware that animal activists who’ve been spewing rhetoric on the growth promotion evils of antibiotics used in livestock production, have now changed their verbiage to attack prevention and control means of using antibiotics. This situation needs to be watched to ensure that the pressure doesn’t ramp up on attacks on therapeutic claims for antibiotics. “That would be devastating for animal care and animal welfare,” she asserts.

Earlier this month, FDA appealed a New York magistrate court’s ruling that indicated FDA needed to act on a 1977 action to withdraw growth promotion uses of penicillin and two types of tetracycline. Wagstrom says FDA is also expected to appeal a second ruling by that New York court ordering FDA to reconsider citizen’s petitions to ban subtherapeutic use of antibiotics used in animal production.