Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Appeals court says FDA can ignore antibiotics issue; CDC gives fresh warning about over-use

The Food and Drug Administration has been asking companies to phase out antibiotics to promote growth in farm animals. But the agency doesn't have to do that, according to a federal appeals court, which determined by a 2 to 1 vote last week that the FDA is not required to ban antibiotics in healthy animals, Lindsay Abrams reports for Salon.

"In 2012, two district courts decided that the agency could — and must — do more, ruling that the FDA was required to hold a hearing if it determined that the non-medical use of a certain drug was unsafe," Abrams writes. "At the hearing, drug manufacturers would then be required to prove otherwise. In Thursday’s 2-1 decision, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, placing the power to decide whether to hold hearings back in the hands of the FDA."

Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning "that the government needs to take immediate action before we live in a world where life-saving antibiotics are no longer effective," Ferdous Al-Faruque reports for The Hill. CDC Director Thomas Frieden said last week, "The health-care system needs to improve how it detects patients with drug-resistant infections, controls the spread of such infections, prevents them from happening in the first place and incentivizes drugmakers to develop new antibiotics."

Frieden said 23,000 Americans die each year from drug-resistant infections, and "hundreds of thousands of cancer patients rely on antibiotics after chemotherapy because their immune systems become compromised," Al-Faruque writes. Frieden told him, “From a strictly business standpoint, the terrible thing about antibiotics is they cure people. That’s not a model for a highly lucrative pharmaceutical product — you want a product that has to be taken for a long, long time.”

The CDC has launched a new system that lets hospitals track all antibiotics dispensed "and look at real-time patterns of antibiotic resistance, so doctors can narrow down which antibiotics are most likely to work," Al-Faruque writes. "The CDC says every hospital should have an 'antibiotic stewardship program' that tracks how antibiotics are used to try minimize overuse of the drugs, which can lead to drug resistance." (Read more)

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