Next FDA Commissioner Must Address Antibiotic Resistance Crisis

WASHINGTON—Scott Gottlieb stepped down from his role as the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today. Under his leadership, the FDA did not adequately address the antibiotic resistance crisis.

A statement follows from Avinash Kar, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

“On Scott Gottlieb’s watch, the FDA failed to adequately address the growing antibiotic resistance crisis. The next commissioner must do much more to crack down on the meat industry’s rampant overuse of antibiotics in livestock that aren’t sick, a practice that’s threatening the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs for people and animals.”


Up to 162,044 deaths a year are now estimated to result from bacterial infections resistant to multiple antibiotics—more than seven times as many as the Centers for Disease Control had previously estimated—making them the third leading cause of deaths in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

In the U.S., about 95 percent of drugs given to livestock and poultry are routinely distributed en masse in feed or water—often to animals that are not sick to help them survive crowded and unsanitary conditions on industrial farms.

This practice contributes to the rise and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and increases the risk of drug-resistant infections in humans. Leading medical experts warn that we must stop overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and animal agriculture, or else the life-saving drugs we rely on to treat common infections and enable medical procedures could increasingly stop working.

With far more medically important antibiotics being sold for use in cows and pigs than people, addressing overuse in meat production is critical to combatting drug resistance.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​


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