The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved forward on its strategy to phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for food production purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. The plan would also phase in veterinary oversight of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses of such drugs.
The Final Guidance 213 issued by FDA phases out growth-promotion uses of antibiotics. It allows animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily withdraw growth-promotion claims from their product labels. The plan also calls for changing the current over-the-counter (OTC) status to bring the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses under veterinary oversight. Once a manufacturer voluntarily makes these changes, 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.
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The proposed Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule gives veterinarians more oversight and responsibility in prescribing and administering medically important antibiotics in feed. The Animal Health Institute said, “It is important for consumers to know that within three years, all uses of medically important antibiotics in animal agriculture will be only for therapeutic, or targeted, purposes under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. We strongly support responsible use of antibiotic medicines and the involvement of a veterinarian whenever antibiotics are administered to food-producing animals. This policy fulfills the request by a number of public health advocacy groups in a July, 2009 letter to the White House.”
However some groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “FDA’s policy is an early holiday gift to industry. It is a hollow gesture that does little to tackle a widely recognized threat to human health.”
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