Judge’s ruling requires action on food-animal antibiotics use

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Late last week, a federal judge in New York ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must start proceedings to remove certain subtherapeutic antibiotics applications for food-animals, until drug makers can prove a product’s safety. If they can't prove safety, then FDA must withdraw the approval for use of those drugs, the judge ruled.

As his reasoning, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz, cited concerns that “antibiotic overuse in food-animals is endangering human health” by resulting in antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

The judge sided with advocacy groups, including the National Resources Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Union of Concerned Scientists, which filed suit against FDA last May regarding a 35-year-old assessment that antibiotics use in food animals and their possible relationship to drug-resistant bacteria in people. Last December, FDA outlined its future plans, stating that the antibiotic directive was outdated and that it intended to pursue other regulatory strategies for coping with potential food-safety problems.

Katz ordered the FDA to follow through on the process it started in 1977. "In the intervening years, the scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown, and there is no evidence that the FDA has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe," Katz wrote in his decision.

According to Liz Wagstrom, DVM, chief veterinarian with the National Pork Producers Council, "The ruling requires FDA to continue the process it began in 1977, to determine if subtherapeutic use of penicillin and tetracycline are unsafe. At the time these products were approved there was no process to evaluate the implications of their use on antibiotic resistance. If there is a hearing on these products any evidence, including the risk assessments that have been completed, are likely to be considered in determining the saftey of these uses." 

But others see this development differently. "It's about time," was the response from Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who has been a strong advocate against using antibiotics in food-animal production for reasons other than direct treatment. "The FDA has been dragging its feet on this for 35 years. We've all known that this is a public health issue for quite some time.”

Since 2007, Slaughter, a microbiologist, authored The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) legislation. “It is designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease,” she says. “The legislation would prevent the overuse of seven classes of antibiotics, including penicillin and tetracyclines.”

Slaughter says the judge’s ruling is a start. "This is a good first step but to really get in front of this problem we must address all classes of antibiotics in farm animals that are important to human health. That's why I will continue to press for passage of PAMTA."

In its decision, the court noted: "Research has shown that the use of antibiotics in livestock leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be--and has been--transferred from animals to humans through direct contact, environmental exposure, and the consumption and handling of contaminated meat and poultry products."

The case is Natural Resources Defense Council et al. v. FDA, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, no. 11-3562.


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gunsmoke    
illinois  |  March, 26, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Just another mis-informed ignorant liberal judge attempting to throw his weight around.

michael    
kansas  |  March, 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Worse than mis-informed, intentionally mis-informed by PETA funded, vegan "advocacy groups" and a willfully ignorant anti-ag US Representative Slaughter. The "research..." cited by the court is a Single Study that was recently completed by a Single researcher. There are no others and there has been little review of it's findings. This is just one more front that anti-meat radicals are using to attack animal agriculture. We would be fools to not treat it seriously and aggressively defend ourselves.

Sharon    
new york  |  March, 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM

Thank you Judge Katz! For helping the animals & the people!

Michael    
Iowa  |  April, 05, 2012 at 05:21 PM

Sharon how doe's this help the animals at all? What is your logic? I raise pork and only use these types of drugs for treatment. I am all for responsible usage of such antibiotics. How is the description of "responsible" to be obtained? Let's start there and try to get somewhere! Or is the adjenda rather to ruin a industry? I fear the latter! Then when the American meat industry is ruined , incomes the overseas supply of meat, they will not have any of your concerns. O and they will not care either. Our best hope to protect people from these super bugs is to work within our boarders.

Michael    
Iowa  |  April, 05, 2012 at 05:21 PM

Sharon how doe's this help the animals at all? What is your logic? I raise pork and only use these types of drugs for treatment. I am all for responsible usage of such antibiotics. How is the description of "responsible" to be obtained? Let's start there and try to get somewhere! Or is the adjenda rather to ruin a industry? I fear the latter! Then when the American meat industry is ruined , incomes the overseas supply of meat, they will not have any of your concerns. O and they will not care either. Our best hope to protect people from these super bugs is to work within our boarders.

Maxine    
SD  |  April, 24, 2012 at 07:53 PM

Isn't this another case of "it isn't so much what we know as what we THINK we know that isn't so (meaning factual)" causing problems which may be far greater than any real (which hasn't been positively proven) link. between uses of such medications in animals and ANY problems for humans. What is the Senator doing to stop the over-use and mis-use (prescription of antibiotics for illnesses which they do not and/or cannot affect) and failure of the patient to use such drugs properly and dispose of them properly???


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