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Food & Drug Administration Seeks Data About Antibiotics Given To Cows, Pigs, And Poultry

Pharmaceuticals: Agency wants species-specific information on sales from manufacturers of animal drugs

by Britt E. Erickson
May 25, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 21

FDA wants to get a better handle on the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals to help ensure that medically important antibiotics are used judiciously. Under a rule proposed last week, animal-drug makers would be required to provide FDA with sales and distribution data, by species, for all antimicrobial drugs sold for use in major food-producing animals.

The agency says the information would help it better understand the links between use of antibiotics in farm animals and antibiotic resistance. FDA currently requires drug manufacturers to provide the agency with sales and distribution data for antimicrobials, but those data are not broken down by major species—cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys.

To get the full picture, FDA also needs data about on-farm use practices, says Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA. The agency plans to work with other federal agencies and stakeholders to obtain that information, he says.

Environmental and public health groups welcome the proposal but say it does not go far enough. They are urging FDA to require information on the justification for using antibiotics—for example, to promote growth or to treat disease. Such data are vital for determining whether use of antibiotics in livestock is shifting in response to FDA’s voluntary policy for phasing out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion, says Avinash Kar, an attorney with the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.


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