AT the end of June, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Cal.) introduced legislation to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock production.
If enacted, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013 would direct the Food & Drug Administration to restrict use in livestock production of antibiotics that are critical to human health unless they are used to treat clinically diagnosable diseases.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D., Cal.), Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.), Susan Collins (R., Maine) and Jack Reed (D., R.I.), would also require drug companies and livestock producers to demonstrate that they are using the drugs to treat sick animals.
Earlier this year, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.) introduced similar legislation in the House, with 47 co-sponsors. This is the fifth attempt since 2003 to pass legislation in both the House and Senate restricting the use of antibiotics in healthy animals.
Earlier in the week, the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. gave an overview to more than 70 congressional staff members on antibiotics used in food-producing animals as part of its "Beef 101" educational series.
The session featured a presentation by Dr. Mike Apley, a clinical pharmacologist with Kansas State University, who covered common myths about antibiotic use, such as the misconception that 70% of antibiotics used in the U.S. for human and animal uses are used for non-therapeutic use in food animals. In fact, Apley said, some antibiotics calculated into that total have never been marketed in the U.S.
He added that a large percentage of the antibiotics used to treat and prevent illness in animals are ionophores, which are not used in human medicine.
In 2012, a federal court ordered FDA to address the use of antibiotics in livestock as a result of a lawsuit filed against the agency citing its failure to act in response to findings dating back to 1977 that feeding livestock low doses of antibiotics also used in the treatment of human disease could promote the development of antibiotic-resistance bacteria.
In March, FDA announced joint meetings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to collect feedback on its plan for the judicious use of medically important antimicrobials in medicated feed or the drinking water of livestock.