AVMA lauds FDA for new regulation of antibiotics in livestock feed

The collective efforts of many AVMA volunteers and AVMA staff really paid dividends when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday announced significant changes to veterinary feed directive (VFD) regulations that will require veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in livestock.

Members of our Steering Committee for FDA Policy on Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials, as well as AVMA staff, were instrumental in shaping this favorable outcome for the veterinary profession and those veterinarians who work so closely with livestock producers.

The AVMA has long been a proponent of judicious drug use by veterinarians, having historically worked with the FDA and other stakeholders to help develop principles and processes that foster the appropriate and judicious use of medically important antimicrobials. For years, the Steering Committee for FDA Policy on Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials has been engaged with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine on discussions related to veterinary oversight. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the FDA on this topic.

Our membership has a strong, vested interest in ensuring that the VFD regulations are an efficient and appropriate mechanism for veterinary use of antimicrobials in livestock and poultry. The FDA’s acknowledgement of the necessity to update and streamline the existing requirements related to the distribution and use of VFD drugs in order to facilitate the transition of certain new animal drug products from over-the-counter status to a status that requires veterinary oversight is commendable.

The FDA’s Final Guidance 213 establishes a three-year timeframe for phasing out growth-promotion uses of antibiotics important in human medicine and the phasing in of veterinary oversight. For more on the issue, read the AVMA’s press release.

3 thoughts on “AVMA lauds FDA for new regulation of antibiotics in livestock feed

  1. Dear Colleagues,

    Some of us tried as many as five years ago to get AVMA to encourage the action FDA announced on December 11th.

    Although AVMA is now claiming some responsibility for this important FDA action, actually it was the successful Natural Resources Defense Council lawsuit in 2012 and pressure from medical and public health organizations that led to FDA’s action. AVMA was essentially brought alone for the ride.

    AVMA can prove it is willing to lead on this critical issue by supporting the passage of Preserving Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA); or at least, stop fighting against its passage. PAMTA is a way forward to ensure veterinary oversight of all antimicrobials used in food animals. FDA has gone as far as they can. This is why they are asking the pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop marketing these critical antimicrobials for non-therapeutic uses in healthy livestock. PAMTA will accomplish what FDA cannot to safeguard public health.

    I am asking that AVMA stop fighting the passage of PAMTA. Better yet, support the passage of PAMTA.

    Michael J. Blackwell, DVM, MPH
    Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS (Ret.)
    AVMA Member

    • Dr. Blackwell,

      Thank you for your input on this issue that is so important for the AVMA and our members. This dialogue gives us the opportunity to continue to talk about the AVMA’s position on these substantial matters affecting public health and animal health and welfare.

      I would like to comment on some of the views in your response. While I recall your efforts as a strong proponent of banning production (growth promotion) uses of medically important antimicrobials, the AVMA’s response to that aspect of FDA’s guideline on judicious use has been that production uses should not be categorically presumed to be injudicious. This is especially true if a veterinarian is involved in the decision-making process and FDA’s own risk assessments have shown infinitesimally small risks. As FDA has clearly outlined in the finalized GFI#213 released last week, if a product currently labeled for production uses has demonstrated therapeutic effects, then the AVMA strongly supports and encourages drug manufacturers to seek the appropriate approvals for these products and that the products be relabeled accordingly.

      In proposed rule for the veterinary feed directive, members of our Steering Committee for FDA Policy on Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials and AVMA staff have been working for months to help shape this new regulation. We applaud the FDA for their insight and due diligence in the revisions to the VFD regulations. We are especially pleased that the FDA thoughtfully considered commentary from all stakeholders and included very specific recommendations on the VFD regulations. The new VFD is both the right thing to do for public health and antimicrobial resistance, but also, quite plainly, for AVMA members and this is due, in part, to our input.

      As for the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), the AVMA opposes passage as it is currently written due to our belief that PAMTA has the potential to be deleterious to food safety as well as animal health and welfare. The legislation proposes to eliminate certain uses of antimicrobials defined as “non-therapeutic,” which has the potential to severely limit the ability of veterinarians to ensure optimal animal health and welfare, and therefore food safety. We will continue to suggest that the FDA recognize the decision to use antimicrobials is made on the basis of many factors for which a licensed veterinarian is uniquely qualified to consider at his or her professional discretion.

      W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA

  2. Dear AVMA:

    The following link is an interview with Dr. Samadi of FOX news who claims that antimicrobial resistance has crossed from animal protein into humans. Also the Dr. suggested that organic meat will be healthier.

    While the reform of antibiotic use in livestock is voluntary, I am unaware of any scientific evidence that resistance had crossed from livestock to humans. Correct?


    As an aside, there are no health benefits from eating organic foods compared to conventional food production http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249848.php.

    I think AVMA should contact Fox News and set the record straight. As I am aware, the antibiotics are a different class in human use than in livestock use. Also, the FDA does sample meat carcasses for residues and most producers follow withdrawal period as well.

    Thank you.