KENNEDY: BILL CURBS USE OF ANIMAL ANTIBIOTICS HARMFUL TO PEOPLE
Today, the Washington Post reports that another antibioticcefquinomeis on track to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug would be administered to treat pneumonia-like disease in cattle. This drug is classified as highly potent and would be the first in its class to be approved for use in animals.
In February, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, joined by Senator Olympia Snowe and Representative Louise Slaughter introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Human Treatment Act of 2007. The increased use of antibiotics in livestock has created microbes resistant to all but the newest and most expensive drugs. The Act will protect the health of Americans by phasing out the non-therapeutic use in livestock of medically important antibiotics, unless their manufacturers can show that they pose no danger to the public health. Kennedy has introduced similar legislation since 2002.
Senator Kennedy said, "Infections are posing a greater and greater risk to people as they grow resistant to today's antibiotics. We must make certain that we do not weaken the effectiveness of antibiotics through overuse as animal feed additives. But as we spend billions of dollars in the race to develop new antibiotics to keep people safe and healthy, it makes no sense to undermine our own efforts through the indiscriminate use of the these essential medicines in agriculture."
A summary of the legislation is below.
THE PRESERVATION OF ANTIBIOTICS FOR HUMAN TREATMENT ACT OF 2007
SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY AND OLYMPIA SNOWE
The widespread use of antibiotics beginning in the 1940's provided - for the first time in history- effective treatments for infectious diseases. These miracle drugs have saved countless lives, but they are losing their effectiveness. Antibiotics that once had the power to cure dangerous infections are now often useless, because microbes have become resistant to all but the newest and most expensive drugs - and some "superbugs" are impervious to any weapons in the medical arsenal. Resistance to antibiotics takes a heavy toll on patients across the nation. The World Health Organization estimates that 14,000 Americans die every year from drug-resistant infections. This means that one American dies from a resistant infection every 38 minutes.
It seems scarcely believable that these precious medications could be fed by the ton to chickens and pigs - but that's exactly what's happening in farms all over America. Over 20 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to farm animals every year. That's more than is used in all of medicine. These precious drugs aren't even used to treat sick animals. They are used to fatten pigs and speed the growth of chickens. The result of this rampant overuse is clear: meat contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria sits on supermarket shelves all over America. Every family is potentially at risk. The most vulnerable among us - children, elderly, persons with HIV/AIDS - are particularly endangered by resistant infections.
At a time when the nation is relying on antibiotics and other medications to protect our homeland's security from the grave threat of bioterrorism, we can no longer squander these precious weapons in the fight against disease by feeding them indiscriminately to livestock.
Provisions of the Legislation
· The Preservation of Antibiotics for Human Treatment Act of 2007 will protect the health of Americans by phasing out the non-therapeutic use in livestock of medically important antibiotics, unless their manufacturers can show that they pose no danger to the public health. The Act requires this same tough standard of new applications for approval of animal antibiotics.
· The Act does not restrict use of antibiotics to treat sick animals or to treat pets and other animals not used for food.
The below provisions are in the Senate bill:
· The Act provides for Federal payments to farmers to defray their costs in switching to antibiotic-free husbandry practices, with a preference given to family farms. The Act also authorizes grants for research and demonstration programs on means to reduce the use of antibiotics in the raising of livestock.
· The Act requires manufacturers to report: (1) on the amounts of antibiotics they supply for animal use (2) on the animals to which those drugs are given and (3) on the uses for which those drugs are supplied.