The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing last week on human antibiotic resistance and the threat it could pose to public health. Testifying before the committee were Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., in his opening remarks, said it is important to know the effects of using antibiotics in large numbers of animals without medical need. He went on to ask whether or not giving large numbers of animals antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes as a preventative measure ran the risk of creating antibiotic resistance.
Frieden told the committee that public health experts have recommended phasing out antibiotic growth promoters. Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., defended animal agriculture, the use of antibiotics and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s antibiotic approval process.
Pitts commented on the need to focus on areas where science has shown there is concern, and that it is not agriculture.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., asked the witnesses if there is a definitive study to link the use of antibiotics in animal feed to changes in resistance in humans. Reps. John Shimkus, R-Ill., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., also asked about such studies. The witnesses said there are not.
Dingell stated that the nexus between antibiotic use in animals and human antibiotic-resistance is not known.