Animal groups prepare for new antibiotic regulations
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is readying new policies for the animal health industry that would limit the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals.
- Farmers, veterinarians and companies which make medicines for use in animals are all required to comply with the new regulations, which are scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2017. In addition, the agency recently put out a request for comment on guidance concerning limits on how long antibiotics can be used in food-producing animals.
- Several agricultural groups – including the Animal Health Institute, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Animal Agriculture Alliance – have created a website, www.togetherabx.com, to educate the industry about the new regulations.
Antibiotic resistance has become one of the biggest public health concerns, with doctors, regulators and drugmakers fearing the obsolescence of whole classes of antibiotics due to bacteria's ability to mutate and adapt to the medications.
While over-prescribing of certain antibiotics has fed into this issue, another major contributing factor has been the overuse of antibiotics in animals that are raised for the food supply.
"This policy ensures that the antibiotics classes we need as humans are only administered to food animals when medically necessary to fight disease,” said Alexander S. Mathews, president and CEO of the Animal Health Institute (AHI) in a statement. "Most importantly, the policy protects animal health and well-being while providing consumers with the safest food possible."
The new FDA policies will eliminate the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals and make the use of medically important antibiotics only under the supervision of a veterinarian.
The FDA put out two guidance documents regarding the use of antibiotics in animals – one about the judicious use of these medications in food producing animals and the other a guidance to the maker of drugs for animals.
Several major pharmaceutical companies will be affected by the guidelines. Eli Lilly & Co's Elanco is one of the largest animal health units. During the second quarter, it launched Inteprity, a first-in-class animal use only in-feed antibiotic approved for the prevention of necrotic enteritis. Elanco has also teamed up with EnBiotix technology to develop alternatives to traditional antibiotics.
Elanco brought in $1.6 billion in sales during the first half of the year.
- Animal Health Institute Statement
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