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January 2011
Policy and Advocacy
FDA Releases Data on Antibiotic Use on the Farm

Nearly 29 million pounds of antimicrobials were sold and distributed for use in animal agriculture in 2009, according to a first-ever report released in December by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA report, which is based on data submitted by drug manufacturers, breaks down the data by different drug classes. The report and a related question-and-answer document are available online.

Of the antibiotics sold in 2009 that are used in both humans and food animals, almost 80 percent were for use in animal agriculture, according to an analysis from the Center for a Livable Future based on FDA’s report and additional data obtained from the agency.

FDA released the data, contained in a brief, four-page report, following legislation passed in 2008 directing the agency to do so annually. IDSA and other organizations had advocated for this data to be collected and reported publicly, in light of the scientific evidence demonstrating that antibiotic use in food animals contributes to the spread of resistant bacteria to humans and leads to drug-resistant infections. IDSA and many of these groups also support legislation, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would appropriately limit non-judicious uses of antibiotics in agriculture.

In its Q&A document, FDA noted that “because more use of antimicrobials is, in general, associated with greater levels of resistance, these data will supplement the FDA’s ongoing activities in antimicrobial resistance prevention.”

Although the report is a good first step, IDSA believes more detailed information on the use of antimicrobials in both humans and in animals is needed. The Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act, which IDSA and more than 25 other organizations have endorsed, contains solutions that would help address this need, in addition to providing improved coordination and funding of federal activities.
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