The much-publicized goal of HR 1549 and S619 is to ban non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed and water.

But talking points obtained from the Animal Health Institute (AHI), suggest the proposals ignore regulatory and scientific actions that support antimicrobial products:

  • The bills undermine the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process of reviewing the human health impacts of animal drugs based on science and risk assessment. All antibiotics used to preserve animal health have been approved by FDA, and been reviewed for their potential to cause increased antibiotic resistance.

  • The bills ignore more research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture into antibiotic resistance in the 2008 Farm Bill.

  • The bills overlook the need of the veterinary community to preserve these classes of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals to ensure that healthy animals enter the food chain. With FDA expected to approve few new antibiotics, removal of antibiotics will only increase use of the remaining products, thus increasing the selective pressure for resistance to those antibiotic classes. This action defeats intended preservation for both veterinary and human medicine.

  • The bills confuse the issue of antibiotic resistance in general with antibiotic resistance linked to farm animals. Most scientists and public health professionals acknowledge antibiotic resistance in humans is overwhelmingly related to human drug use.

  • The bills cite Europe as a model while proposing to pull from the market a broader range of products than those banned in Europe. The experience in Europe of the non-scientific removal of the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals has been clear: increased animal disease, increased use of therapeutic antibiotics and no improvement in human antibiotic resistance patterns.

  • The bills ignore many voluntary and regulatory actions that ensure the safe use of antibiotics. Judicious use principles are widely observed in a variety of livestock species. Voluntary risk assessments have been done by sponsors, and FDA is now requiring specific risk assessments for new and existing antibiotic products.

“Data from USDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA show these efforts are working and we should not risk undermining animal health by passing this bill,” concludes the AHI talking points.

“Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009” is sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).