July 31, 2018

Warren Applauds FDA Announcement on Strengthening Oversight of Antibiotic Use in Animals

Commissioner Gottlieb Agrees to Several Steps Championed by Warren, Colleagues

Washington, DC - Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) applauded an announcement by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb committing to specific steps requested by the senator and aimed at reducing the overuse of antibiotic drugs in animals and combatting the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. 

Last week, Senator Warren sent a letter to Commissioner Gottlieb urging the FDA to take a series of actions to improve oversight of medically-important antibiotics in food animals.  In her letter, Senator Warren highlighted several gaps in FDA animal drug policy that contribute to human disease and requested increased efforts to limit antibiotic resistance.  Senator Warren also asked the FDA to provide specific timelines on when it plans to issue and finalize the guidances referenced in today's announcement.

"With two million Americans developing antibiotic-resistant infections every year, we need to do everything possible to slow the growth of antibiotic resistance," said Senator Warren.  "I have repeatedly called on the FDA to step up its oversight of antibiotics used in animals. My letter posed specific questions to Commissioner Gottlieb, and I expect these questions to be answered in a formal reply. But the steps that Commissioner Gottlieb committed to taking today will help ensure that antibiotics are used judiciously in animals and I am pleased to see this announcement."

Today, Commissioner Gottlieb released a statement in which he announced that the FDA would soon release a five-year plan for addressing antibiotic resistance in veterinary settings.  In his statement, Gottlieb committed to a taking a series of new steps to slow the development of antibiotic resistance that Senator Warren called for in her letter, including:

  • issuing guidance to bring all medically-important antibiotics under veterinary supervision;
  • issuing guidance on appropriately-targeted durations of use for medically-important antibiotics;
  • and publishing a list of medically-important antibiotics that are currently lacking duration limits.

Senator Warren has been a leader in efforts to call for increased oversight by the FDA of antibiotic use in animals.  In June, Senators Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Strengthening Antibiotic Oversight Act, which requires the FDA to review the durations of use of approved antibiotics and to collect and report data on their use. In March of last year, Senator Warren joined her colleagues in calling on the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture to increase collaboration and oversight to reduce the inappropriate use of medically important antibiotics in food animal production.  In April 2016, Senator Warren led a group of Senators in urging then-FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to address clear gaps in the agency's policies on antibiotic use in food animal production.