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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Proposal to Invalidate FDA Authority Over Veterinary Antibiotics


In a misguided, retrograde and potentially harmful Bill, John Brecheen (R-OK) and Eric Burlison (R-MO) have sponsored the “Stop Government Overreach in Ranching Act”.  This Bill would repeal FDA oversight on antibiotics and set back public health at least a decade.  In accordance with FDA Guidance, only licensed veterinarians can prescribe antibiotics under strict rules and following prudent use principles. These are intended to avoid overuse, residues in food products and inappropriate medication that has led to the emergence of drug resistant pathogens endangering both human and animal health.


The Bill would allow ranchers and farmers to resume purchase of antibiotics over the counter as occurred previous to the introduction of restrictions.  Reversion to the status quo would place discretion for use of antibiotics in the hands of those contributing to widespread antibiotic resistance in the first instance.


The president of the American Farmers and Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers’ Union stated, “Our livestock producers have years of experience managing these antibiotics; they know what their animals need to thrive.”  This is a gross misrepresentation. Veterinarians operate according to a strict set of ethics, have taken courses in microbiology, pharmacology and epidemiology and are aware of restraints in writing prescriptions and issuing VFDs. Evidence shows that following the introduction of restrictions on the use of antibiotics in livestock production in the E.U., the prevalence of drug resistant pathogens has declined albeit at a slow rate. 


Veterinarians address problems of multifactorial diseases by addressing basic causes.  Antibiotics were widely misused by ranchers and farmers and previously by poultry producers to suppress infections that should have been addressed by enhancing biosecurity, hygiene and application of vaccines.  More than half of broilers produced in the U. S. are raised antibiotic-free. If ionophore anticoccidials are disregarded as in the E.U., the proportion is probably closer to 90 percent. The egg industry has negligible use of antibiotics other than to treat specific diseases during pullet rearing since, with one questionable exception, there are no label provisions allowing administration of antibiotics to laying hens.


The legislators sponsoring this bill should be more concerned about public health and ultimately the profitability of their constituents than promoting “quick fix” solutions. If appropriately briefed they would accept scientifically justified restrictions on the use of antibiotics by the unqualified.

Copyright © 2024 Simon M. Shane