For the first time, farmers and ranchers will now be required to get a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals. The FDA made this significant announcement last month. Officials hope the move will slow the indiscriminate use of the drugs, which has made them increasingly ineffective in humans. The FDA has been moving slowly, taking small steps in its efforts to curb the use of antibiotics on farms. Federal officials believe requiring prescriptions will lead to meaningful reductions in the agricultural use of antibiotics.
As has been widely reported, the use of antibiotics are given both to reduce sickness and to promote animal growth. The drug resistance that has developed from that practice has been a growing problem and has rendered a number of antibiotics used in humans less and less effective, with deadly consequences. Initially, the FDA is asking drugmakers to voluntarily change their labels to require a prescription. According to the FDA, drugmakers have largely agreed to the change. Michael Taylor, the agency’s deputy commissioner for food, who has predicted that the new restrictions will save lives, had this to say:
We’re confident that it will result in significant reductions in agricultural antibiotic use and reductions in resistance pressure from dangerous bacteria. That’s why we’re doing this.
It will be interesting to see how this rule works. The fact that it allows the drug companies to change their labels voluntarily does give me some concern. I have never felt that approach worked very well and in many cases it didn’t work at all. But hopefully, they will do the right thing and change their labels.
Source: Associated Press
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