April 25, 2018

Waxman and Slaughter Introduce Antibiotics Bill

Congresspersons Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have introduced a bill into Congress to better monitor antibiotic use in animals. The bill, H.R. 820, the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act, will provide information on the amount of and use of antibiotics given to animals raised for human consumption.

Rep. Waxman said in a statement, “the widespread use of antibiotics in animals is a vital public health issue. We need to learn more about how these drugs are being used. With this information, scientists will be able to better pinpoint the relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in humans and the development of dangerous resistant bugs that can harm humans. This knowledge will inform scientists and Congress and start us down the path to sensible regulation.”

The FDA has been fighting court decisions mandating it to start withdrawing approvals for antibiotic use in farm animals. And in December 2012, the Government Accountability Project  (GAP) sued the FDA over information about how antibiotics are used in food animals. The Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) rquires sponsors of animal drugs to submit a yearly report detailing the amount of antimicrobial active ingredients sold for use in farm animals. The FDA refused to provide that information to GAP in 2011, prompting the lawsuit. In addition, the FDA has been issuing voluntary  guidance documents instead of regulations about the overuse of antibiotics in animals used for food.

Rep. Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress said, “we are on the cusp of a monumental public health crisis in America. Right now, 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are used not on humans but on food animals, many of whom are already perfectly healthy. As a result, antibiotic-resistant bacteria now kill more Americans every year than HIV/AIDS.”

The DATA Act will force drug manufacturers to obtain and provide better information to the FDA on how their drugs are used in food animals and improve the timing and quality of data the FDA releases. It will also require producers of poultry, swine and livestock to submit data to FDA detailing the type and amount of antibiotics contained in animal feed.

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