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Waxman Legislation to Improve Data on Animal AntibioticsWaxman Legislation to Improve Data on Animal Antibiotics

October 19, 2012

2 Min Read
Waxman Legislation to Improve Data on Animal Antibiotics

WASHINGTON  Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat, this week announced plans to introduce a bill on Capitol Hill designed to provide crucial information to food regulators on the quantities and types of antibiotics being fed to livestock.

The "Delivering Antibiotic Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act" would require drug makers to provide comprehensive information to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how their drugs are used on farms, and for the first time, feed mills would face obligations to submit data on the types, purposes and quantities of antibiotics that are being given to animals, according to Waxman's office.

The legislation is aimed to address concerns stemming from overuse of antibiotics, which can lead to drug-resistant infections that can pass to humans.

"We need reliable information about the use of antibiotics in agricultural operations. The more we learn, the graver the threat becomes from overuse of antibiotics by industrial-scale farms," Waxman said in a statement Tuesday. "We need this information so scientists and Congress can stop the spread of drug-resistant infections from farm animals to humans."

Citing FDA, Consumers Union states an estimated 80 percent of antibiotics sold in this country are used in food animals, predominantly to prevent disease and make them grow faster. The non-profit policy organization said there is insufficient data today on the amount and type of antibiotics that are used for each category of food animal.

"The daily feeding of antibiotics to healthy farm animals threatens public health by making these critical medications less effective for people," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, in a statement Tuesday. "This bill will pinpoint the extent to which antibiotics are being overused on the farm so the FDA can take appropriate action to protect public health. We need to limit the excessive use of antibiotics in animal feed if we are going to prevent them from losing their power for people."

Waxman's legislation would limit the reporting requirement to animals that are most often consumed and constrain data on antibiotics to those products that are most important for human medicine, according to Consumers Union, which has urged Congress, FDA and some state legislatures to ban the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered FDA to begin withdrawing approval for some antibiotics used on livestock until drugmakers can prove the drugs are not contributing to drug-resistant bacteria and whether they are safe for human consumption.

"In the intervening years, the scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown, and there is no evidence that the FDA has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe," wrote Theodore H. Katz, U.S. Magistrate Judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


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