Veterinarians caution Congress over FDA proposed antibiotic ban


Six veterinarians testify about a proposed federal ban on antibiotics used in feed.

Washington, D.C.

-- Six veterinarians, including the American Veterinary Medical Association's Dr. Christine Hoang, took the stand during a congressional subcommittee hearing over a proposed federal ban on antimicrobials used in feed additives.

As part of her testimony, Hoang cautioned against federal bans of antimicrobials, and told members of Congress the decision could have far-reaching impacts on animal and human health, AVMA reports.

The U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Health sponsored the hearing.

"The veterinarian must always consider the individual animal; other animals and humans in contact with that animal; and, if it is a food animal, we must ultimately consider the people who consume the end product," Hoang told the subcommittee.

Hoang reassured members of Congress that veterinarians share the same concerns regarding public health as physicians, but also must consider the impacts of such a ban on animal health and welfare, AVMA reports.

AVMA's Antimicrobial Use Task Force recently concluded that veterinarians should be involved in the decision-making process for the use of all antimicrobials in animals, the national veterinary association reports, whether the drugs are obtained through prescriptions, Veterinary Feed Directives or over-the-counter.

“Without exception, the AVMA is supportive of measures to mitigate risks to human health associated with the use of antimicrobials in agricultural animals,” she says. “To avoid potential diversion of resources away from more appropriate disease-control measures, we encourage a regulatory strategy that is based on science, risk-and-benefit analysis, risk management that is commensurate with the level of risk, and cooperation with all relevant stakeholders."

Witnesses included:

-Joshua Sharfstein, MD, principal deputy commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services

-John Clifford, DVM, deputy administrator, Veterinary Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture

-Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH, assistant surgeon general and acting deputy director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services

-Per Henriksen, DVM, PhD, head, Division for Chemical Food Safety, Animal Welfare, and Veterinary Medicinal Products, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration

-Dr. James R. Johnson, MD, professor of medicine, University of Minnesota, Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America

-Gail R. Hansen, DVM, MPH, senior officer, Human Health and Industrial Farming Group, Pew Charitable Trusts

-Christine Hoang, DVM, MPH, CPH, assistant director, Scientific Activities Division, American Veterinary Medical Association

-Randall Singer, DVM, MPVM, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

-Richard Carnevale, DVM, vice president, Regulatory, Scientific, and International Affairs, Animal Health Institute

-Stuart Levy, MD, professor of molecular and microbiology, professor of medicine, Tufts University.

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