The FDA issued a policy of voluntarily decreasing the antibiotics used in livestock to only those deemed medically necessary. However, because the use of antibiotics prophylactically is considered medically necessary, no great change is anticipated from this policy.
There is a loud response from Keep Antibiotics Working, who is skeptical that this new policy will bring about any real results. The coalition feels the antibiotics in livestock are creating superbugs which are then fed to humans causing untreatable infections. They are now focusing their attention of getting two pending bills passed.
The first is titled Preventing Antibiotics Resistance Act. It calls for much more stringent regulations of Veterinary Feed Directive, which governs what is included in livestock feed. The second comes from the House of Representatives and is titled Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. This bill includes minimizing the antibiotics feed to livestock by increasing the need for prescription from veterinarians to include antibiotics in feed. Keep Antibiotics Working hopes this will bring about fewer superbugs, allowing the antibiotics we do have to continue to be effective.
Eli Lilly which provided a large portion of the antibiotics used in livestock feed is unconcerned by the new policy issued by the FDA and feels that it will not impact their sales. According to Reuters, the drugs most affected will be tetracycline, penicillin and mactolide. The sale of these products is largely by Elanco (LLY) and Zoetis (ZTS).
The American Veterinarian Medical Association is not anticipating any great alterations. Their website provides FAQ’s on the benefits of feeding livestock antibiotics for prophylactic purposes. The AVMA supports judicious use of antibiotics in livestock, but feel that the current feed guidelines meet these criteria. They acknowledge that resistance is a problem, but the risk of animal to human transmission is extremely low. They feel it more important to keep the animal livestock population healthy and fit for consumption.