NRDC and six other advocacy groups have petitioned FDA, requesting the withdrawal of approvals for several medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry.
- For years, FDA, USDA, and various stakeholders have grappled with how to address concerns about the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth or feed efficiency in food-producing animals. For example, in 2013, FDA asked animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved conditions of use on antibiotic labels to remove production indications. In March 2015, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced a bill that would require FDA to withdraw its approval of medically important antibiotics that are at a high risk of abuse in food-producing animals. And in October 2015, California passed legislation to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock.
- On September 13, 2016, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and six other groups petitioned the FDA to withdraw approval of the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry for disease-prevention or growth-promotion purposes. The petition specifically calls for approvals to be withdrawn for seven classes of antibiotics recognized as important to human medicine: macrolides, lincosamides, penicillins, streptogramins, tetracyclines, aminoglycosides, and sulfonamides. NRDC’s petition contends that FDA’s guidance, which promotes the judicious use of therapeutic antimicrobial drugs in food animals, has not gone far enough in reducing antibiotic use.
- In light of FDA’s demonstrated preference for working with industry to gradually phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for production purposes (e.g., to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency), it appears that the petitioners have a hard road ahead. Regardless of how FDA responds to this petition, it is clear that antibiotic resistance remains a hot-button public health concern.