Brown bill would banish select food animal drugs


The distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic use may split the fate of select antibiotics targeted in a federal bill unveiled in Congress Feb. 28.

The distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic use may split the fate of select antibiotics targeted in a federal bill unveiled in Congress Feb. 28.

The bill, entitled "Preservation of Antibiotics for Human TreatmentAct," would phase out antibiotics administered in routine feeding tohealthy farm animals for non-therapeutic use. At presstime, the Coalitionfor Animal Health lambasted the legislation (see related story, p. 39).

Introduced by Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the legislation targetsfluoroquinolones and eight antibiotics used in human medicine or strikinglysimilar to human-use drugs so as to trigger cross-resistance. The markedantibiotics have been proven to cause development of antibiotic-resistantbacteria in food animals that is passed onto humans through consumption,thereby disabling effective treatment of human infections.

"Congresswoman (Louise) Slaughter and (Congressman) Sherrod Brownare becoming aware that people, as they're getting sick for different reasons,are finding themselves resistant to certain antibiotics," says SteveAdamske, press secretary for Slaughter. "It's not necessarily alarming,but it's becoming a problem that I think we need to do (something)."

The antibiotic preservation act would cancel approvals under the FoodDrug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) for nontherapeutic agricultural use of penicillins,tetracyclines, macrolides, lincomycin, bacitracin, virginiamycin, aminoglycosidesand sulfonamides. The bill would also phase out therapeutic use of fluoroquinolones,which are used in poultry. Currently one manufacturer (Bayer) produces fluoroquinolonesfor poultry. (See related story, p. 1.)

Initial support

Co-sponsored by Reps Henry Waxman (CA) and Slaughter (NY), a microbiologist,the act reportedly is backed by scientific, public health and consumer groups.

Household names such as McDonald's, Wendy's and Popeye's franchises havehalted all orders of poultry treated with fluoroquinolones. Poultry producers,such as Tyson Foods, Gold Kist, Inc. and Perdue Farms, are likewise actingto eliminate nontherapeutic use of drugs in their product, according toBrown.

Exempted drugs

The bill is focused on fluoroquinolones and antibiotics that have shownto cause human resistance.

"For the dairy side of life and meat producer side, it's not banningany medications or prescriptions for sick animals. That's an important distinction,"says Adamske.

Additionally, veterinarians can continue business as usual.

"This (bill) shouldn't impact veterinarians at all," adds Adamske."What is going to change is the nontherapeutic use."

Delayed withdrawal

The legislation states that the eight classes of antibiotics used infood animals would be phased out after two years, according to Brown. However,the producers of named drugs would have that period to show that nontherapeuticuse of their drugs does not trigger development of antibiotic-resistantbacteria in humans.

If the bill is passed, Adamske says it is not clear at this time whatagency would monitor compliance. In the meantime, the House is now lookingto obtain a Senate sponsor.

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