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July 2009
Vol. 19 No. 7
Policy and Advocacy
FDAs New Approach to Antimicrobials in Animals Earns Support of IDSA, Others

This month, IDSA mobilized an informal coalition of 20 organizations to support the Obama administration’s new public health approach to antimicrobial use in animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s new approach calls for phasing out the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion and feed efficiency. Announced earlier this month, the new approach also requires that other animal uses of these drugs be carried out under the supervision of a veterinarian and within the context of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship—which is expected to end the over-the-counter sales of tons of antimicrobial drugs annually.

The White House and FDA quickly received complaints from agricultural interests opposed to this new approach, making it important that experts from the medical, scientific, food safety, and animal health sectors come together to support this policy shift. The groups—including IDSA—voiced their support in a joint letter to the Obama administration. The groups also urged FDA to make the new policy mandatory, retroactive to already-approved drugs, and enforceable. IDSA and the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) also issued a press release applauding the administration’s leadership on this politically charged issue.

Other IDSA advocacy efforts include:

  • IDSA, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Center for Global Health Policy are strongly urging Congress to fully repeal the 20-year-old ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs. The House passed an appropriations bill on July 24 that includes a partial repeal of the ban. Unfortunately, the House bill would limit the areas where needle exchange programs can operate, hindering urban areas in implementing these programs where they are most needed. The Senate appropriations bill does not include language concerning repeal of the ban. In a press release and several letters, IDSA, HIVMA, and the Center called on the full Congress to repeal the ban without restrictions. The organizations will work to include a full ban in the final appropriations measure.
  • In a letter, IDSA responded to a draft health care reform bill (see President’s Message). The Society addressed concerns about physician payment reform, supported expanding access to federally recommended vaccines, and called for offer evidence-based wellness and prevention services, such as routine HIV testing. IDSA also urged lawmakers to include the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act (see IDSA News article) and legislation to improve access to home-infusion therapy in the final version of the committees’ bill. IDSA also signed onto a separate letter that urged the inclusion of medical liability reform within the context of health care reform legislation.  (For additional IDSA comments on health reform, click here.)  
  • IDSA, HIVMA, and the Global Center support the Obama administration’s move to lift the nation’s ban on travel and immigration to the United States by HIV-positive individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proposed removing HIV from the list of diseases that classified the infection as a “communicable disease of public health significance.” CDC is seeking public comment through Aug. 17 at this website.
  • In a joint letter, IDSA, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) urged that CDC guidance for novel H1N1 infection control in health care settings be revised based on the evolving science. In June, IDSA and APIC endorsed a SHEA position statement that also addressed this issue (see IDSA News article).

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