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Court Tells FDA: Don't Delay on Protecting People Against Antibiotic Overuse in Factory Farms

Avinash Kar

Posted August 8, 2012 in Health and the Environment

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In a decision earlier today, a federal court in New York ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot delay regulatory proceedings for penicillin and tetracyclines use in livestock – two kinds of antibiotics whose overuse in animals is reducing their effectiveness in treating sick people. This is good news! 

Thumbnail image for feature_pighazard_adjusted.jpgThe court action 1) ensures that action is not delayed further until after the resolution of an appeal by FDA of the court’s original decision to mandate these proceedings and  2) imposes a deadline for the completion of the proceedings (thereby rejecting FDA’s arguments that a schedule was not needed). FDA will have approximately five years to complete proceedings.

A quick refresher on how we got here:  In 1977, FDA found that the use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed poses risks for human health because it leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance reduces the efficacy of important medicines and can lead to longer illnesses, more hospitalizations, the use of drugs with greater side-effects, and even death when treatments fail. As the Director General of the World Health Organization has warned, bacteria are becoming so resistant to common antibiotics that it could mean “the end of modern medicine as we know it,” and “[t]hings as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

We sued FDA to force FDA to address this threat, and back in March, the court ruled that FDA must withdraw approvals for the use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed unless drug manufacturers prove in regulatory hearings that such uses are safe for human health.

In imposing a schedule for FDA action today, the court pointed to FDA’s “unreasonable” 35-year delay in “perform[ing] its statutorily-prescribed duty to initiate, let alone complete, withdrawal proceedings” for penicillin and tetracyclines. In other words, it’s been long enough already.

FDA needs to move forward as rapidly as possible with the regulatory proceedings to address this pressing health threat and to rectify its decades-long neglect of this issue. 

It’s time to quit stalling and get going.

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Comments

WalterAug 9 2012 06:42 PM

That is one sick looking pig. Why did you either photoshop it so badly or choose that image?

PeterAug 10 2012 04:33 AM

As well as protecting people from antibiotic use in livestock, everyone needs to be protected from the indiscriminate use of antibiotics from the doctors and medics. The world over those who now suffer chronic long-term problems as a result of antibiotics should be recognised.
Antibiotics can cause Coeliac disease and severe gluten sensitivity, antibiotics damage the intestinal econology dramatically giving rise to allergies, immune system breakdown, fungal dysbiosis and overgrowth. But still the medical profession dish antibiotics out like sweets. Whole generations have been damaged by antibiotics. It is time the whole world knew that has been done to people both by doctors and in the food chain.

jennifer toppingAug 10 2012 10:51 AM

Injecting animals with medicines that are used in treating human illnesses is wrong. We need these antibiotics for human purposes. Also, injecting them with any foreign substance is just unhealthy whatsoever..not only for the human but the animal as well.

Joyce JodoinAug 10 2012 11:04 AM

Maybe if the livestock were kept in better conditions they wouldn't need the antibiotics to be kept "healthy"! I can'thelp but wonder if this is the reason I became allergic to penicillin and tetracyclines as well as other antibiotics in my 30s! (No, I was not 'sickly' as a child or until my 30s.)

Pat BaconAug 10 2012 05:57 PM

Factory farms have been the root of the problem all along. Antibiotics are needed when you overcrowd livestock and force them to live in unclean environments. When livestock has , fresh,clean food and plenty of room to move around and lie down comfortably then the farm animals don't get sick and need all kinds of antibiotics. Not a complex plan at all so why do many farms continue to do what they do? Money!

Neil RamiresAug 11 2012 10:00 AM

Injecting animals with medicines that are used in treating human illnesses is wrong. .... Factory farms have been the root of the problem all along !!

dumb americanAug 12 2012 08:56 AM

corporations are the root of the problem, and their ownership of ALL regulatory agencies in ussa.
Lobbyists buy the govt. Its been sold to the highest bidder and the idiots that support it are the people.

Margaret OliverAug 16 2012 11:30 AM

"In a decision earlier today, a federal court in New York ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot delay regulatory proceedings for penicillin and tetracyclines use in livestock – two kinds of antibiotics whose overuse in animals is reducing their effectiveness in treating sick people. "

YAY!!! Excellent news that this ruling came through, holding the FDA responsible to perform a duty it was called to perform when I was a mere infant. Now I'm 36 years old, and lived through the consequences of their failed action. I'm curious how many more years it will take (now) for a complete roll-back of human-harming medicines used on live-stock? A problem this pervasive, even if the FDA starts doing their job on this issue... seems to me it will take a very long time to put into action.

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