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FDA tries to temper use of antibiotics in livestock

Thursday April 12, 2012
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced steps to protect public health and promote the judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.

Based on a consideration of relevant reports and scientific data, the FDA has proposed a voluntary initiative to phase in certain changes to the labeling and use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. The goal is to help preserve the effectiveness of these antimicrobials for treating disease in humans.

The FDA has issued three documents to help veterinarians, farmers and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously in food-producing animals by targeting their use to address diseases and health problems. Under this voluntary initiative, certain antibiotics would not be used for so-called "production" purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. These antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.

"It is critical that we take action to protect public health," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, said in a news release. "The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective."

The FDA published three documents April 11 in the Federal Register:

• A final guidance for industry, "The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals," that recommends phasing out the agricultural production use of medically important drugs and phasing in veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of these drugs.

• A draft guidance, open for public comment, that will assist drug companies in voluntarily removing production uses of antibiotics from their FDA-approved product labels; adding, where appropriate, scientifically-supported disease prevention, control and treatment uses; and changing the marketing status to include veterinary oversight.

• A proposed Veterinary Feed Directive regulation, open for public comment, that outlines ways in which veterinarians can authorize the use of certain animal drugs in feed, an important step in making the needed veterinary oversight feasible and efficient.

For more information on the directives, visit http://1.usa.gov/9BX5qy.

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