AVMA, stakeholders discuss antimicrobial use in food animals

By: Dr. Ashley Morgan, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

dairy farmRepresentatives from the AVMA recently met with federal agencies and stakeholders in Washington, D.C., to educate them on the role that veterinarians play in overseeing the judicious use of antimicrobials in food animals.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a strategy that phases out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for production purposes (i.e., to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency) and calls for all therapeutic uses (such as to treat, control and prevent diseases) to be given under the oversight of licensed veterinarians. The AVMA Steering Committee for FDA Policy on Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobials has been instrumental in providing feedback to the FDA as they consider changes to veterinary feed directive (VFD) drugs.

On Sept. 9, AVMA leaders and staff met with FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor to discuss the association’s support for the new strategy. The AVMA also participated in the American Meat Institute’s educational briefing on this issue on Sept. 18 and will participate as a stakeholder in the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s U.S. Stakeholder Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance (S-FAR) inaugural meeting on Oct. 9.

The AVMA continues to partner with animal agriculture stakeholders to educate federal agencies on issues of mutual concern, such as antimicrobial resistance and animal disease programs. The Animal Agriculture Coalition, which is comprised of most major animal and animal-related commodity organizations as well as allied organizations representing veterinary medicine, animal science and various U.S. livestock or animal agricultural interests, had its first quarterly meeting with FDA’s Mike Taylor on Sept. 22. The group discussed how the agency plans to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, pending changes to the VFD rules, and the agency’s overall strategy on antimicrobial resistance.

In addition to the ongoing efforts within the FDA to curb antibiotic use in food production, the White House recently announced a set of new federal actions to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and protect public health. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) also released a report on the steps it believes the government should take to improve the country’s surveillance capabilities for resistant bacteria, increase the longevity of current antibiotics, and accelerate the rate at which new antibiotics and other interventions are discovered and developed. The AVMA is in the process of reviewing this information.

For more information on AVMA’s engagement in discussions on antimicrobial resistance, please contact me at amorgan@avma.org.

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