25 of 26 Drug Makers Will Curb Antibiotics in Animals

FDA's voluntary plan has gained major ground
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2014 7:39 AM CDT
In this Tuesday, April 23, 2013 file photo, Kent Walker, who farms and ranches, walks through one of his cow pastures in Frederick, Okla.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(Newser) – The FDA's first attempt to limit antibiotic use in farm animals appears to be working: All but one of the 26 drug companies asked to curb the use of antibiotics in animals to promote growth have agreed to do so, though the plan is voluntary. The plan will see the drug companies remove claims of growth promotion from their products, which will effectively make it illegal for the drugs to be used on livestock without a valid medical reason. Only antibiotics used similarly by humans—think penicillin and tetracycline—will be affected, and the 25 companies in agreement with the plan make 99.6% of those drugs. "I think that within three years we're going to see growth promotion gone when it comes to antibiotics," one expert tells the Wall Street Journal.

It's a big step forward, especially considering fears that drug makers would not come onboard, the Los Angeles Times reports. The FDA is attempting to fight the overuse of antibiotics because it is blamed for the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. But an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council says more must be done, because farms also use antibiotics to prevent sickness in animals due to crowded and unsanitary conditions. "The FDA is just limiting antibiotic use for growth promotion, but the same animals are given the same antibiotics because of the crowded conditions," he says. "Current levels of antibiotic use are likely to continue, but just with a different justification and label. That won’t do anything to protect human health."

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