Slaughter Blasts the FDA as New Report Outlines its Failure to Combat the Misuse of Antibiotics
WASHINGTON, DC — 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 26 percent between 2009 and 2015. 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.
“The report released this afternoon by the FDA highlights just how toothless its policies have been when it comes to combating the rampant misuse of life-saving antibiotics on factory farms. This new data shows that this misuse has skyrocketed 26 percent over just a six year span. It comes on the heels of the discovery earlier this year of the first case in the United States of an antibiotic-resistant superbug that could not be killed by any known drug. The FDA has some of the broadest authority in our government, and it should finally begin to use it and get serious about addressing this public health crisis. The progress we’ve made is in spite of the FDA not because of it, as consumers demand action and companies comply. It is beyond time that the FDA catches up with the rest of the world and prohibits the use of medically important antibiotics in agriculture,” said Slaughter.
As the only microbiologist in Congress, 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. Slaughter has also 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. FDA has since heeded her call to improve data collection for the use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals. Slaughter 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.