April 12, 2016

Senators Call on New FDA Commissioner to Address Gaps in Policies to Reduce Antibiotic Use in Animals

Washington, DC - Today, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) wrote to urge recently-confirmed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf to address clear gaps in the agency's policies on antibiotic use in food animal production.

In their letter, the senators noted that many food animals are still fed low doses of antibiotics continuously throughout their lifespan under the guise of "disease prevention", which puts them at risk of developing resistant bacteria that can easily spread to humans. The letter highlights positive steps the FDA has taken to address this antibiotic overuse, but also identifies significant gaps that remain, including concerns related to enforcement, data collection, and metrics for evaluation.

"[E]ffective policies to reduce antibiotic use in animals are a critical part of reducing the public health threat posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria.  The FDA's current policies are an important first step, but they have clear gaps and alone are not enough. As you begin your work as Commissioner, we ask that you prioritize this issue by creating a plan to address the gaps," the senators wrote.

A PDF copy of the senators' letter is available here.