Leading medical and public health groups urge action on antibiotic resistance

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Last week, an impressive list of medical and public health groups wrote to political leaders to urge action on antibiotic resistance and to reiterate the clear scientific evidence linking the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in food animals and the spread of antibiotic resistance.  They were clear that such overuse “must end, in order to protect human health.” The letter highlighted the significant body of literature on the human health threat posed by antibiotic misuse in food animals.  

The groups that signed the letter include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Public Health Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Johns Hopkins Center For a Livable Future of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists. 

Many of the same groups also took out an ad in Politico, Roll Call, The Hill and CQ Today, to draw political leaders’ attention to the science and the need for action.  They point out that

Hundreds of scientific studies conducted over four decades have shown that feeding low doses of antibiotics to healthy food animals leads to drug-resistant infections in people. In fact, America’s leading medical, scientific and public health organizations have been warning of the danger for years.

The groups call on “Congress, the White House and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to act decisively to protect our life-saving antibiotics so they work for sick people.”

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science has warned that “[t]he specter of untreatable infections - a regression to the pre-antibiotic era - is looming just around the corner” if antibiotic resistance is not addressed.

In a summer where we saw the recall of 36 million pounds of turkey contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria that sickened more than 78 people, landed 22 people in hospital, and led to the death of one person, the call is a timely one.  It is incumbent on our leaders to take action to protect these miracle drugs.