This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) denied two citizen petitions that asked the Agency to ban certain uses of antibiotics in food animals. The petitions, filed in 1999 and 2005, urge the FDA to withdraw the approvals for antibiotics given to animals in feed or water for purposes other than disease treatment if the antibiotics are also used in human medicine.
The petitions were filed by the Environmental Defense, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, and the Union of Concerned Scientists along with other groups because of evidence showing that using antibiotics in this way in food animals can lead to the spread of difficult to treat resistant infections in humans.
In denying the petitions, the FDA did not challenge the need to reduce antibiotic use, but instead argued that the withdrawal process itself was too expensive and resource intensive. Rather than implementing its formal process for taking drugs off the market, the Agency stated that it plans, “to work with sponsors who approach FDA and are interested in working cooperatively with the Agency to phase out production uses of medically important antimicrobials.”