FDA Seeks Greater Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials for Farm Animals

In June, the World Organisation for Animal Health reported antimicrobials used for farm animals fell by one-third from 2015 to 2017, with 156 countries reporting decreased usage. Additionally, 70 percent of countries reported they do not use antimicrobials for promoting animal growth.

Also in June, the Food and Drug Administration published guidance indicating it plans to give veterinarians oversight of all uses on animals of antimicrobials that are also important in human medicine. About 96 percent of these drugs are already administered under veterinary guidance, so the notice applies to the 4 percent available over the counter. It allows pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily change their policies or face regulatory proceedings. The FDA stated that administration by trained veterinarians will help slow antimicrobial resistance and preserve the drugs’ effectiveness in both humans and animals. 

Measures ensuring responsible use are helpful, but low-stress handling and a focus on animal welfare are also essential to reducing antimicrobial use on farms and the extreme danger antimicrobial resistance poses to human health.

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