FDA wants limits on antibiotics given to animals

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But FDA officials said the scientific literature supports the role that indiscriminate use of antibiotics plays in reducing the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans.

“We think the science is very solid to support this effort to address these issues,” Taylor said.

The rollout from FDA comes at an unusual time in the agency’s attempts to curb antibiotic use in animals. Last month a federal court judge ordered the agency to take action on its own 35-year-old rule that would have banned non-medical use of two popular antibiotics, penicillin and tetracycline, in farm animals.

The FDA issued the rule in 1977 but never enforced it, following vigorous pushback from members of Congress and lobbyists for farmers and drugmakers. Four public safety groups sued the agency to act on the regulation, winning the case handed down in the U.S. District Court of Southern New York on March 22. The agency was given 60 days to appeal the decision.

FDA’s Taylor said he believes the voluntary guidelines can achieve the same goal as the court ruling in less time.

The waning effectiveness of antibiotics has been a global health concern for several decades, attracting the attention of the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and other medical groups. As bacteria have grown more resistant, new and more deadly forms of malaria, staph and other infections that were once easily treatable have emerged across the globe.

Experts say overuse of antibiotics in both animals and humans has contributed to the problem. Both medical societies and government agencies have launched educational programs designed to educate physicians on appropriate prescribing of antibiotics.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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