NCHR Testimony to the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria on Animal Antibiotics

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Dr. Stephanie Fox-Rawlings from the National Center for Health Research. Our center analyzes scientific and medical data to provide objective health information to patients, providers and policy makers.

We support efforts by federal agencies to reduce unnecessary exposures to antibiotics. Reducing unnecessary exposure reduces antibiotic resistance, and thus preserves the use of these antibiotics for animal and human health.

The newly implemented FDA rules require veterinary oversight for the use of medically important antibiotics and excludes growth promotion from the label. Legally, this limits the use of these drugs.  We agree with the limits, but those limits are voluntary.  Even more worrisome, the recommendations contain loopholes with the potential for continued widespread use, such as for disease prevention – and it seems clear that disease prevention can be broadly interpreted.  If antibiotics become ineffective, animals will be vulnerable to outbreaks that can have a disastrous impact on animals and humans

Food manufacturers and food service companies are recognizing the commercial benefit to selling animal products raised without antibiotics or with only limited exposure to antibiotics.  So in addition to the health issues for humans and other animals, the business concerns also encourage the drastically reduced use of antibiotics when other alternatives are available.

National initiatives and regulations are needed to reduce unnecessary exposures to antibiotics. They need to be enforceable and to be enforced.  The responsible use of antibiotics is important for proper care of livestock and for public health for all of us.