To Fight Superbug Crisis, Public Needs More Data on Farm Animal Drugs

WASHINGTON (March 20, 2013) - The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today missed an opportunity to add public health protections to the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA), which sets the fees veterinary drug makers pay FDA for approval of new drugs.

Mae Wu, Health and Environment Program attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:

“The public truly lost out today when the Senate HELP committee declined to add new reporting requirements that could help fight the rising tide of antibiotic resistance. We need greater transparency and more information on antibiotic use in livestock to address this looming superbug crisis with the best available data. That’s why we are calling on other Senators to defend public health and support this common sense provision proposed by Senators Feinstein and Gillibrand when the full Senate debates ADUFA.”


Today, 80 percent of all the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in livestock production - not humans. This widespread abuse of antibiotics on farm animals that are not sick is contributing to the escalating public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. The science overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the misuse of antibiotics in livestock production poses a threat to human health. Leading medical and scientific organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Centers for Disease Control agree that “[o]veruse and misuse of important antibiotics in food animals must end, in order to protect human health.” The CDC has said that there is “strong scientific evidence of a link between antibiotic use in food animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.”

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) have offered a joint provision amending the next version of the fee bill that will strengthen the requirements for how antibiotic sales are reported to the public by requiring FDA to disclose antibiotics sales, administration and marketing information intended for animal agriculture, including for example, whether those sales were over-the-counter or prescription. Additionally, the provision calls for disclosure of how medically important these antibiotics are for humans. However, the Committee -- pressured by the pharmaceutical and livestock industries – opted to avoid any discussion or consideration of the Gillibrand-Feinstein proposal.