Slaughter Blasts FDA for Failure to Act As Report Shows Large Increase in Antibiotic Use
With the release this afternoon of a report showing an increase in the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics on factory farms, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter blasted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failing to curb the misuse of these lifesaving drugs and called for immediate action to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The FDA report found that sales of medically-important antimicrobials increased by 23 percent between 2009 and 2014. The rampant overuse of antibiotics on factory farms for non-medical uses such as growth promotion has been linked to the spread of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Every year in the United States, these superbugs cause at least 23,000 deaths, eight million additional hospital days, and up to $35 billion in excess health costs.
“This report demonstrates what I have been saying for years: that FDA’s policies have been toothless in the face of the continued, widespread misuse of life-saving antibiotics in factory farms,” said Rep. Slaughter. “Over just the last five years, the FDA’s new data proves that the misuse of medically essential antibiotics has skyrocketed 23 percent. The increased use of antibiotics over the last year is particularly disgraceful, since it came after the FDA issued voluntary guidance they claimed would actually reduce the use of antibiotics in agriculture. The FDA knows that the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture leads to increased antibiotic resistance but has so far refused to act. That’s why I’m calling on the FDA to immediately prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics in agriculture—just like the rest of the world is doing.”
As the only microbiologist in Congress, Rep. Slaughter has led the national effort to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance and preserve the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs. She wrote the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics by preventing their overuse on healthy food animals. She also introduced a bill to require robust reporting of antibiotic use by factory farms. In July, Rep. Slaughter convened a White House meeting of leading scientists and advocates to press key administration officials on the need for urgent action to combat antibiotic resistance. In August, the FDA heeded her call to improve data collection for the use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals. She has also introduced legislation to ensure our nation’s food supply remains safe and nutritious. After leading an investigation into fast food company policies on antibiotic use, she called on McDonald’s to make their meat more sustainable by only using beef raised without antibiotics.