Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics Lauds FDA for Action on Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals
“Major step forward,” says APUA President Stuart Levy
BOSTON -- June 29, 2010 -- The Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), the leading, independent global organization dedicated to preserving the power of existing antibiotics, today lauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) draft guidance to curb the use of antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals.
Professor Stuart B. Levy, M.D., president of APUA and an internationally recognized authority said, “While the FDA’s draft guidance is a major step forward in curbing excessive use of antibiotics in animal food production, specific guidelines and oversight will be required to ensure appropriate use.”
In making the announcement yesterday, Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said, “Using medically important antimicrobial drugs as judiciously as possible is key to minimizing resistance development and preserving the effectiveness of these drugs as therapies for humans and animals.”
Antibiotic resistance—whereby microorganisms fail to respond to antibiotic substances—has become prominent since Penicillin was discovered nearly a century ago. However, it has continued to grow and has evolved into a global public health crisis. Today, antibiotic resistance threatens the health of people around the world by creating the circumstances in which drugs can no longer cure infections and killer epidemics run rampant.
According to a recently completed study sponsored by APUA, the estimated annual cost of antibiotic resistance in U.S. hospitals is greater than $20 billion and adds 6.4 – 12.7 hospital days per patient stay.
High-volume use of antibiotics at food animal production sites, according to APUA, is a major contributor to the selection and transfer of dangerous resistance mechanisms that can end up in human pathogens. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to food animals, most of it, not to treat or prevent disease, but to make the animals gain weight faster and to compensate for the crowded conditions often found in such enormous facilities.
Levy noted, “We recognize the important benefits of antimicrobials to treat sick animals in animal food production. However, it’s the non-therapeutic overuse at low doses for growth promotion that is unnecessary and a major contributor to antibiotic resistance.”
The FDA said it is “committed to working with animal drug sponsors, the veterinary and public health communities, the animal agriculture community, and all other interested stakeholders in developing a practical strategy to address antimicrobial resistance concerns that is protective of both human and animal health.”
APUA, the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (www.apua.org), founded in 1981and based at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., is the leading, independent non-governmental organization dedicated to preserving the power of existing antibiotics and increasing access to needed new agents. APUA conducts a multidisciplinary research program to provide evidence to inform and shape public policy. Based in the United States with chapters in 60 countries, APUA works to improve the use of antibiotics in order to preserve their ability to cure infections.