Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Some movement on antibiotics fed to farm animals—at long last

leave a comment »

Only a tiny bit of movement, and Big Agriculture has yet to put the pressure on Congress and the Obama Administration. Gardiner Harris reports in the NY Times:

A federal magistrate judge on Thursday ordered the Obama administration to alert drug makers that the government may soon ban the common agricultural use of popular antibiotics in animals because the practice may encourage the proliferation of dangerous infections and imperil public health.

The order, issued by Judge Theodore H. Katz of the Southern District of New York, has the effect of restarting a process that the Food and Drug Administration began 35 years ago in hopes of preventing penicillin and tetracycline, two of the nation’s most popular antibiotics, from losing their effectiveness in humans because of their widespread use in animal feed to promote growth in livestock like chickens, pigs and cattle.

The order comes two months after the Obama administration announced restrictions on agricultural uses of cephalosporins, a critical class of antibiotics that includes drugs like Cefzil and Keflex, which are commonly used to treat pneumoniastrep throat and skin and urinary tract infections. The F.D.A. is expected to issue within days draft rules that would bar the use of penicillin and tetracycline — highly popular in agricultural settings — in animal feed to further growth, the same issue tackled by Judge Katz. A decade ago, the F.D.A. banned indiscriminate agricultural use of a powerful class of antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones, that includes the medicine Cipro.

The judge’s order may accelerate the F.D.A.’s incremental efforts to restrict common agricultural practices that are viewed by microbiologists and other medical researchers as leading to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotic treatments, a development that many doctors say has cost thousands of lives.

Antibiotics were the wonder drugs of the 20th century, and their initial uses in both humans and animals were indiscriminate, experts say. Farmers were impressed by the effects of penicillin and tetracycline on the robustness of cattle, chickens and pigs, and added the drugs in bulk to feed and water, with no prescriptions or sign of sickness in the animals.

By the 1970s, public health officials had become worried that overuse was leading to the development of killer infections resistant to treatment. In 1977, the F.D.A. announced that it would begin the process of banning these uses. But the powerful House and Senate appropriations committees passed resolutions urging the F.D.A. not to follow through on these efforts, and the agency retreated.

“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 the F.D.A. has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe,” Judge Katz wrote in his order.

A vast majority of antibiotics used in the United States still goes to treat animals, not humans. Meanwhile, outbreaks of illnesses from antibiotic-resistant bacteria have grown in number and severity. . .

Continue reading. As you can tell, the FDA has experienced an inversion in which its mission to protect the public becomes perverted so that it sees its mission as protecting industry, the public  be damned.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2012 at 3:40 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.