Continued attention has been focused on how to address antibiotic resistance. Although no single action can be taken to fix the problem, tracking use has been seen as a critical element in protecting the drugs’ effectiveness.
In Washington D.C., Wednesday a joint public meeting of the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and Center for Disease Control addressed antimicrobial use and resistance data collection.
The all-day joint hearing featured presentations overviewing current Agriculture Resource Management Survey’s (ARMS) on-farm sampling project, USDA’s plans for antimicrobial drug use collection and proposals for moving forward. The agencies have proposed a new coordinated, interagency annual report with science-based information about antibiotic drug use and resistance in animal agriculture. It would integrate an array of information on animal demographics, animal health, drug use and resistance to provide a comprehensive picture of antibiotic use practices in animal agriculture.
The hope is that the reports will enhance transparency while also assess the adoption of changes outlined in FDA’s guidance 209 – which outlines FDA’s position on phasing out growth promotant uses for medically important antibiotics and guidance 213 which no longer allows growth claims for the label of products containing medically-important antibiotics.
Dan McChesney, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine Office of Surveillance and Compliance, said the “gold standard” of truly understanding antibiotic use in food animals is tracking what’s used on farm.
FDA and USDA are working together on establishing ways to track on-farm use data. A recent rule asked drug sponsors to report their sales and estimate how much is used for different species. However, groups have criticized that this data could be misused and mischaracterized.
In a statement to Feedstuffs from the National Pork Producers Council, the groups said its counts on the analytical capabilities of USDA to help determine how well data represents the real on-farm picture and on the best ways to analyze and report such data. “Though such a public-private partnership, we will be able to assess antibiotics use and identify opportunities to continually improve use in the industry. This model has been used with health care systems sharing data with CDC and should be equally rigorous for assessing use, including appropriateness of use, for animal agriculture.”
Kathy Simmons, DVM, chief veterinarian for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., delivered comments at the meeting sharing that NCBA believes a clear strategy for data collection, analysis and reporting must first be established before moving forward with the data collection process in order to provide information that correctly represents actual antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals.
“We agree that the antimicrobial drug sales and distribution data currently collected by FDA under ADUFA does not equate to antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals. We are appreciative of the desire of the agencies to obtain broad stakeholder involvement and collaboration in the process to seek the best possible options available for collecting and analyzing on-farm antimicrobial drug use information,” Simmons said.
Simmons said reduction in volume should not be the sole measure of success of a judicious antimicrobial use strategy. Instead, “there must be a way to link antimicrobial drug use metrics with the reason for drug use and animal population parameters rather than simply reporting aggregate quantities for which the only goal is reduction.”
McChesney said he doesn’t expect feed manufacturers to be included in the data collection, as it would be hard to verify what was actually fed under veterinary feed directives. Also visiting enough feed mills would be more expensive that using the USDA on-farm approach which allows research to focus on what’s actually being fed in the real world.