FDA Report: Veterinary Antimicrobial Sales on the Decline

December 21, 2018
American Veterinarian Editorial Staff

The FDA is optimistic that the decrease in sales and distribution reflects heightened antimicrobial stewardship among veterinary professionals.

Domestic sales and distribution of all medically important antimicrobials intended for use in food-producing animals decreased by 33% between 2016 and 2017. This is according to the FDA’s newly released 2017 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals.

The report also shows that domestic sales and distribution of all medically important antimicrobials have decreased by 41% since 2015 and by 28% since the first year of reported sales in 2009. Additionally, sales of tetracyclines—which represent the largest volume of domestic sales—decreased by 40% from 2016 to 2017.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said he finds the sales trends reflected by the new report to be very encouraging. “I’m pleased to see that the sales and distribution of these antimicrobial drugs has declined significantly the past 2 years.”

While the agency said sales data do not necessarily indicate actual antimicrobial use, the notable decreases in volume could be an indication that ongoing One Health efforts to promote antimicrobial stewardship are having an impact. In a statement, Dr. Gottlieb, MD, also pointed out that the 2017 report is the first to include sales and distribution data submitted after the implementation of Guidance for Industry (GFI) #213. Through this recommendation, all medically important antimicrobial drugs administered to food-producing animals in their feed or water are no longer allowed to be used for growth promotion. They can be used only for therapeutic purposes under veterinary oversight.

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In its summary report, the FDA added that “although sales data provide insight regarding antimicrobial drugs entering the marketplace, it is also important to consider additional sources of information when assessing progress of efforts to foster judicious antimicrobial use, including actual use data, animal demographics and animal health data, and data on resistance.”

The FDA will continue to work with federal, academic, and industry partners to learn more about how, when, and why animal producers and veterinarians use medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. The agency plans to publish a report in 2019 that integrates and analyzes multiple data sources to provide a more comprehensive overview on the progress of antimicrobial stewardship efforts. This is part of the FDA’s 5-year action plan, unveiled in September, which outlines steps the agency plans to take to further promote antimicrobial stewardship in the veterinary industry.

“While I’m very pleased with the results of the report, and the efforts by all of our stakeholders thus far to improve antimicrobial stewardship, our work isn’t yet done when it comes to fighting antimicrobial resistance,” Dr. Gottlieb said.