New data from an Animal Health Institute survey show that the volume of animal antibiotics sold in the U.S. steadily declined over the past three years. In 2001, 21.8 million pounds of antibiotics were sold, dropping from 23.7 million pounds in 2000 and 24 million in 1999.

The survey data includes numbers from both livestock and companion animals collected from AHI member companies.

AHI president and chief executive officer Alexander Mathews, attributes the decline to:

  • Judicious use of antibiotics and continuing improvements in production practices that reduce the need for antibiotics;
  • Continued improvements in production and preventative care practices; and
  • The ongoing efforts of various public health and consumer advocacy groups to raise awareness of the issue.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved antibiotics for use in animal husbandry for four basic purposes: disease treatment, disease control, disease prevention, and health maintenance (growth promotion), as measured by improved growth rates or more efficient feed use.

The American Veterinary Medical Association considers treatment, control and prevention of disease to be therapeutic uses. Therapeutic use of antibiotics to treat, control and prevent disease continues to comprise more than 80 percent of total use, despite claims by some that a majority of antibiotics are fed unnecessarily to healthy animals.

While health maintenance, or growth promotion, claims are controversial, there is growing scientific evidence that use of antibiotics in animals, as approved by the FDA, helps maintain the health of animals by suppressing disease, thereby allowing animals to grow more efficiently.
This survey provides strong evidence that the efforts of veterinarians, livestock and poultry producers, animal health companies, regulatory authorities, and advocacy groups are advancing the principles of judicious use and preventative care to ensure that veterinary antibiotics are used responsibly.
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PRNewswire, Animal Health Institute