FDA’s action is in line with to a letter sent to the White House in July, 2009 by 20 public health advocacy groups, including the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming. The letter expressed support for “the FDA’s calls for phasing out the use of antimicrobial drugs for growth promotion and feed efficiency, and for requiring that all other uses of these drugs be carried out under the supervision of a veterinarian.”
Some claim this is an issue that should be addressed through federal legislation or legal action. However, the collaborative, stakeholder process proved to be superior in at least two ways:
First, it achieved the desired outcome faster. The FDA discussed the various issues at length during the process. Second, the action avoided unintended consequences. Legislative bans on antibiotic growth promotion uses in Europe resulted in increased animal death and disease. While the transatlantic outcomes are the same – eliminating antibiotic growth promoters – the FDA’s collaborative provided for a smooth and savvy transition.
The bottom line is that FDA has begun to implement significant public health change in the most practical way possible. Animal health is inextricably linked to human health. This FDA action minimizes antibiotic use in food animals, maintains the tools necessary to protect animal health and, most importantly, enhances the protection of human health.
Pitts, a former FDA Associate Commissioner, is President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a member of the Animal Health Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors