Congress Should Pass Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, Says Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 14, 2010 – Declaring that “we are not gaining ground in the struggle against antibiotic resistance,” Stuart B. Levy, president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), today urged Congress to approve the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA, H.R. 1549, S. 619).
In testimony submitted to the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Levy, an internationally recognized authority and professor of molecular biology and microbiology and of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, said, “We are not gaining ground in the struggle against antibiotic resistance and all of us—you, me and your constituents—are at ever greater risk of contracting a resistant bacterial infection and even one that is untreatable.”
PAMTA would protect the power of seven classes of antibiotics considered vitally important to human health by withdrawing their use from food animal production except when the animals or herds are sick with disease or for disease prevention at high risk times in their rearing. The Act would disallow antibiotic use for growth promotion in animal husbandry which is most often administered in low doses considered ideal for breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria.
APUA, the leading, independent global organization dedicated to preserving the power of existing antibiotics, has studied the different routes of transfer of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria in animal food production. For example, APUA has found that water downstream from farms has been found contaminated with antibiotics leeching through the ground.
Levy said there exists “a mountain of domestic and international scientific evidence demonstrating the linkages between the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics of critical importance to human health and to the frequency of resistant strains of bacteria in human beings.”
He added, “Other industrialized nations, most notably in Europe, have come to similar conclusions and have taken steps to curtail the use of antibiotics for the purpose of growth promotion and feed efficiency. But the United States lags behind and has done almost nothing to curtail non-therapeutic uses.”
For over 20 years, major scientific and public health organizations such as APUA have advocated U.S. policies to promote better regulation of antibiotic use on the farm. Last month, in a significant breakthrough, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft guidance to curb the use of antimicrobial drugs for growth promotion in food-producing animals.
Levy said the FDA draft guidance provides important building blocks for forging consensus between public health and agriculture interests in the future, including treating sick animals under the guidance of veterinarians and using antibiotics on a prophylactic basis for short-durations with at-risk animal populations under the direction of a veterinarian.
APUA, the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (www.apua.org), founded in 1981 and 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. With chapters in 60 countries, APUA works to improve the use of antibiotics worldwide to preserve their ability to cure infections.