Slaughter, Blumenauer Push Obama Administration to Curb Antibiotic Use on the Farm

December 10, 2013
Press Release

Letter Urges OMB to Finalize and Strengthen Regulations

WASHINGTON – This week, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and twelve members of Congress sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize a regulation to curb the overuse of antibiotics on the farm, a practice that has contributed to a rise in antibiotic-resistant infections. The proposed regulation, called Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidance #213, recommends that the drug industry and agriculture companies refrain from using antibiotics for growth promotion and requires veterinary oversight of antibiotic sales. Even once Guidance #213 is finalized, its provisions would be voluntary, and although the FDA says it will evaluate whether the Guidance is effective after a three-year period, the FDA has provided no metrics by which they would measure the effectiveness. A draft of Guidance #213 was released in April 2012, but the administration has not yet finalized the guidance.

Reps. Slaughter and Blumenauer have criticized the voluntary nature of the FDA’sproposal as being toothless, but in lieu of other action from the administration on stopping the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, Slaughter and Blumenauer urged swift action on Guidance #213. Currently 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in America are used on food animals, usually to promote growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions on the farm. Bacteria that are subjected to low doses of antibiotics often become resistant, and then when these bacteria infect humans, those antibiotics are ineffective in treating the infection. Furthermore, antibiotics are used to prevent infection during many routine operations, a practice that could be affected by the uptick in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Rep. Slaughter, the lead sponsor of legislation that would prohibit the routine use of eight critical classes of antibiotics on the farm, said: “The longer the FDA drags its feet on stopping antibiotic overuse on the farm, the worse the problem will get. We need federal agencies that put people’s health before the interests of the drug companies and agribusinesses. Finalizing this guidance is the least the FDA can do– what we really need is a solid regulation that will preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations.”

“Among lawmakers, the medical and scientific communities, conservation groups, members of the agricultural industry, and the public, there is a growing sense of urgency to create a regulatory framework that reduces the overuse of antibiotics in livestock raised for human consumption. The Federal Drug Administration has been working on such regulations for over two years, and they are long overdue. I strongly urge the Obama Administration and FDA to move forward on implementing such a framework without delay.”

Click here to read the full letter.