July 23, 2024

PAMTA Reintroduced to Congress

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, has reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to prevent a post-antibiotic future. Overusing antibiotics causes bacteria to mutate and become resistant to these life-saving drugs.

More than 2,000,000 Americans acquire an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and at least 23,000 died from those infections. This carries a cost of $20 to 35 billion every year. PAMTA will address all routine uses of medically important antibiotics in the feed of animals that are not sick.

The FDA made a commitment in 1977 to put limits on this antibiotic use. The voluntary guidance that agency issued in 2013 is being called a “fig leaf” solution to a monumental problem. Slaughter continued, “the FDA’s voluntary guidance is an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanisms for enforcement and no metric for success. Sadly, this guidance is the biggest step the FDA has taken in a generation to combat the use of antibiotics in corporate agriculture.”

A loophole in the current FDA plan means antibiotics can still be used for disease prevention, even though their use for growth promotion is being phased out. The CEO of Zoetis, the world’s leading animal drug manufacturer, told the Wall Street Journal that FDA guidance “will not have a significant impact on our revenues.”

Slaughter said, “antibiotic resistance is the most pressing public health crisis of our time. Both the American people and U.S. government need to give this issue the attention it demands. Right now, we are allowing the greatest medical advancement of the 20th century to be frittered away, in part because it’s cheaper for factory farms to feed these critical drugs to animals rather than clean up the deplorable conditions on the farm. The FDA, the USDA, and Congress have all failed to enact meaningful changes to the status quo, endangers countless Americans.”

This legislation was originally introduced to Congress in 1999. Representative Slaughter has also put pressure on the FDA and USDA to enact enforceable, verifiable standards for antibiotic use on factory farms. Those agencies have only issued voluntary guidance directives that farms and veterinarians do not have to follow.



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