FDA Ordered to Rethink Livestock Antibiotic Use


The following article is from the Wall Street Journal:


WASHINGTON—A federal judge Monday ordered the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider two denials of petitions to restrict the use of certain antibiotics on farm animals, marking the second time in recent months the agency has lost a court battle over its refusals to ban some uses of the drugs on livestock.

Judge Theodore Katz in New York rejected the FDA’s arguments that it was too time-consuming and costly to revoke the approval of antibiotics on livestock and that asking the industry to voluntarily reduce the use of the drugs was preferable.

Judge Katz had already ordered the FDA in March to restart the process of considering a ban on the use of penicillin and tetracyclines on livestock for nontherapeutic reasons, such as growth promotion and disease prevention.

In a separate ruling Monday, the judge told the FDA it unlawfully dismissed two petitions—one filed in 1999 and the other in 2005—that asked the agency to consider banning farmers from using antibiotics on livestock for nontherapeutic uses.

The FDA couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The agency announced voluntary guidelines in April for livestock producers and drug companies to reduce the use of antibiotics on farm animals, but that shouldn’t prevent the FDA from separately mandating restrictions if they are needed, Judge Katz said.

“The Court ruled that it was unlawful for FDA to deny the petitions on grounds that are not outlined in the law—things other than the safety and effectiveness of the antibiotic uses covered by the Petitions,” said Avinash Kar, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the plaintiffs.

The FDA, the judge said in the new ruling, “must evaluate the safety risks of the petitioned drugs and either make the finding that the drugs are not shown to be safe or provide a reasoned explanation as to why the Agency is refusing to make such a finding.”

Groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Academy of Pediatrics have long argued that the widespread use of low doses of antibiotics in animal feed lead to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, creating a threat to humans exposed to the germs.

Antibiotics help animals grow faster because they make them digest feed more efficiently. The FDA estimates farm animals consumed 29.1 million pounds of antibiotics in 2010, up from 28.7 million pounds a year earlier.

“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a public health crisis,” said Robert Lawrence, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “With this decision, a federal judge ruled that public health matters more than FDA’s excuses.”

Source:  Wall Street Journal

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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