The FDA Prohibits Certain Uses of Antimicrobial Drugs In Livestock

 by Gina-Marie Cheeseman

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an order on January 4, 2012 prohibiting certain uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys effective on April 5, 2012. The FDA issued a similar order in 2008, but it was revoked before being implemented.

 The FDA is taking the action to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs to treat disease in humans, and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines antimicrobial resistance as “resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial medicine to which it was previously sensitive.” Antimicrobial resistance, according to the WHO, “is a consequence of the use, particularly the misuse, of antimicrobial medicines and develops when a microorganism mutates or acquires a resistance gene.”

 Cephalosporins are commonly used to treat pneumonia and skin and soft tissue infections, plus pelvic inflammatory disease, diabetic foot infections, and urinary tract infections. If cephalosporins are not effective in treating those diseases, doctors have to use drugs that are not as effective or have greater side effects.

 The FDA is prohibiting what are called “extralabel” or unapproved uses of cephalosporins in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys, which include:

  • using cephalosporin drugs at unapproved dose levels, frequencies, durations, or routes of administration
  • using cephalosporin drugs in cattle, swine, chickens or turkeys that are not approved for use in that species (e.g., cephalosporin drugs intended for humans or companion animals)
  • using cephalosporin drugs for disease prevention

 Veterinarians will be able to use or prescribe cephalosporins for limited extralabel use in cattle, swine, chickens or turkeys as long as they follow the dose, frequency, duration and route of administration on the label. Veterinarians may be able top prescribe extralabel uses in ducks or rabbits.

 “We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals,” said Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods.

 For more information:

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm285704.htm

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs194/en/

Photo Credit: Flickr / C.K. Hartman (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheezepix/1733045577/).


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