The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) officially announced yesterday that almost every pharmaceutical corporation that they had asked “to voluntarily phase out the use of antibiotics” in livestock specifically raised in order to produce food have agreed to do so. The FDA made this request of the drug companies to make certain that similar drugs utilized to cure certain illnesses in humans continue to be effective.
The FDA reported that a total of 25 different companies—including Novartis Animal Health US, Eli Lilly’s Elanco Animal Health and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica—all said they would comply and discontinue using “medically important antibiotics” in the production of food. The 25 companies involved produce 99.95 percent of all the sales of products upon which the FDA has focused.
This is the result of years of the FDA’s brainstorming and debating over what to do in terms of regulating the different antibiotics given to cattle, pigs and poultry that are also prescribed to people to treat infections and cure illnesses. More and more, politicians and consumer groups have been pressing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take action since recent research demonstrated that bacteria had begun to grow immune to antibiotics when taken by humans.
Last December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested that 26 companies cease labeling drugs used to care for infections in human beings as satisfactory for the growth production of animals. The FDA specifically gave the pharmaceutical companies 2 options: change the labels so that the rugs can only be used with a veterinarian’s prescription or withdraw them from animal use entirely.
A senior analyst for Keep Antibiotics Working, Steven Roach, lauded the praised the Food and Drug Administration’s clarity yet expressed concern that these new agreements are not legally binding and therefore the companies could renege whenever they chose to do so. Roach also told the press he is disappointed with the FDA’s inability to gather data on what specific livestock receive what particular antibiotic and for what specific purpose. He concluded that this failure “will greatly limit our ability to see if the voluntary plan is working.”
(Image courtesy of FeedbackLabs )