Monday, the House Rules Committee held a hearing on the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009” (H.R. 1549), which would ban certain animal health products from use in livestock. The bill – and a companion measure (S. 619) in the Senate – calls for all “critical antimicrobial animal drugs” to go through another U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process within two years of enactment of the legislation.

At the hearing, The Food and Drug Administration said that the use of antibiotics in livestock should be limited to curing or preventing disease but not for growth promotion. The comments were delivered by Joshua Sharfstein, Principal deputy FDA commissioner.

Currently to win approval, an animal drug maker must demonstrate that a product is effective and safe for animals and for the environment. FDA also must determine that new antibiotics for food animals will not harm human health. The legislation also would create the term “non-therapeutic use,” essentially banning antibiotics used to prevent or control diseases.

The National Pork Producers Council strongly opposes restrictions on livestock antibiotics and is urging lawmakers to vote against H.R. 1549 and S. 619.