FDA lowers estimates on antibiotic use

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The initial report had caused a flurry of activity among public health advocates who want to curtail the use of antibiotics in food production out of concern that it puts people at risk by increasing the number of drug-resistant bacteria and making antibiotics less effective. The food and drug industries say restricting their use would cause more animals to get sick, hurt agricultural profits and also create a risk for consumers.

The coalition Keep Antibiotics Working has asked FDA for further explanation. The group says the agency failed to explain why the reduction occurred, why new data were submitted after the March 31 deadline, or how a late submission could decrease the overall amount.

"The FDA's explanation raises more questions than it answers," said coalition member Steven Roach of the Food Animal Concerns Trust. "How could a late submission result in such a huge drop in drug sales?"

The coalition is also asking the FDA to break the data out by route of administration (feed, water, or injection) or purpose (therapy, prevention, or growth promotion).