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Court orders FDA to address antibiotic overuse in livestock
Citing the threats to human health by overuse of antibiotics in animals, a federal judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the agricultural use of penicillin and tetracycline to promote animal growth.
The ruling compels FDA to take actionon its own safety findings by withdrawing approval for most non-therapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed, unless the industry can prove in public hearings that those drug uses are safe.
The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen,and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) last year.
“For over 35 years ago, FDA has sat idly on the sidelines largely letting the livestock industry police itself,” Avinash Kar, NRDC health attorney said in a news release. “In that time, the overuse of antibiotics in healthy animals has skyrocketed – contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that endanger human health.”
In 1977, FDA concluded that feeding animals low doses of certain antibiotics used in human medicine, namely, penicillin and tetracyclines, could promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people.
“In the intervening years, the scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown,” according to the court decision.
“Drug manufacturers will finally have to do what FDA should have made them do 35 years ago: prove that their drugs are safe for human health, or take them off the market,” NRDC attorney Jen Sorenson said in a news release.