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FDA to restrict livestock use of antibiotic

Des Moines Register | Philip Brasher | January 4th, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration is banning farms from giving some antibiotics to livestock for disease prevention and certain other uses. The agency says the ban is needed to ensure that the drugs will continue to work when their given to humans. The FDA proposed a similar ban in 2008 but reversed the decision under pressure from livestock veterinarians.

The FDA ban, which will take effect April 5, affects the class of drugs known as cephalosporins, which are used to treat pneumonia, skin infections and other illnesses in human medicine. The agency’s concern is that overuse of antibiotics in hogs and other food animals is contributing to the problem of drugs becoming less effective in human medicine because of increased antibiotic resistance among dangerous bacteria.

“We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods.

The ban will contain some exceptions that the 2008 proposal did not. For example, farms would still be allowed to use an older cephalosporin called cephapirin that is not believed to contribute to antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.

Cephalosporins account for a very small portion of total farm use of antibiotics. About 29 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in food-producing animals in 2010. Only about 54,000 pounds of those drugs were cephalosporins.

NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for research and educational purposes.

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