Monday, March 30, 2015

Obama's antibiotic plan getting mixed reviews: critics say it doesn't go far enough in agriculture

The Obama administration's National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, a proposal to fight drug resistant bacteria responsible for two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths per year in the U.S., is getting mixed reactions.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology praised the plan, saying in a statement: "More than half of all hospitalized patients will get an antibiotic at some point during their hospital stay, but studies have shown that 30 to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect, contributing to the problem of antibiotic resistance."

But not everyone supports the plan. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the only microbiologist in Congress, unhappy that she wasn't consulted on the plan, released a statement criticizing it for not going far enough: "With 80 percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States being used in agriculture mostly for prevention, any meaningful solution to the looming antibiotic resistance crisis must begin with limits on the farm, and trusting a voluntary policy that lets industry police itself will not bring about real change. Antibiotics were never meant for prevention of disease; they were meant for treatment of disease. Using them at sub-therapeutic levels for prevention has just made bacteria stronger and is rendering antibiotics ineffective."

Mae Wu, health attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. said “The Obama administration needs to do more to reduce antibiotic use in animals that are not sick," Lydia Zuraw reports for Food Safety News. Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts, said "While we’re pleased with the action plan’s continued emphasis on tracking antibiotic use in human medicine, we urge the administration to make even greater progress in reducing the use of antibiotics. We call now for a clear plan to review the safety of antibiotic use for disease prevention in food animals and establish systems to provide better and faster collection of data about antibiotic sales and use.”

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