October 16, 2018

Legislators Reintroduce PARA

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2014 (PARA) to Congress on Monday. This is the Senate version of the House bill PAMTA (Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act). This bill would force the FDA to withdraw approval of medically important antibiotics that are used for disease prevention unless the drug’s maker can demonstrate that its use on factory farms doesn’t pose a risk to humans.

CongressA revised label would need to be issued for antibiotics that meet this standard. The bill would close a gap in the FDA guidelines issued in December 2013. At that time, the government asked – not told – asked the industry to eliminate antibiotic use to help animals gain weight. Industry could still use antibiotics in sub therapeutic levels for disease control.

FDA estimates that 107 antibiotics that are used on factory farm animals don’t have a time limit on use or they can be used continuously with no limit. Food safety advocates and physicians state that using antibiotics with no time limit lets pathogenic bacteria evolve so they become resistant to the drugs.

Collins said, “our bill would build on efforts by the FDA to reduce antibiotic overuse in food animals, through the voluntary policy to eliminate approved growth-promoting uses and improving veterinary oversight, by helping to ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics for preventing and controlling disease in food animal production.” Feinstein added, “antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health threats we face and we need a comprehensive response to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.”

The PEW Charitable Trusts’ Antibiotic Resistance Project is aiding in the fight. They sent a letter to the two senators thanking them for their leadership in this matter.

The CDC estimates that antibiotic-resistant infections kill at least 23,000 Americans every year and cost up to $20 billion. FDA issued Guidance for Industry #213 in 2013, but gaps in that proposal still threaten human health.

The Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak last year, that sickened at least 621 people across the country, is an example. Almost 40% of patients were hospitalized in that outbreak because the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were resistant to several common antibiotics.

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