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FDA Wants to Limit Use of Antibiotics in Livestock

The Food and Drug Administration believes antibiotics should be used on livestock only to cure or prevent disease and not to promote growth, a common use, said Principal deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.

"The FDA also believes that the use of medications for prevention and control should be under the supervision of a veterinarian," he said. This would mean no over-the-counter sales of antibiotics to farmers and ranchers. Restrictions on livestock use would reduce the opportunity for bacteria to develop resistance to drugs used by humans.

Sharfstein told reporters afterward that his testimony was a statement of FDA principles. He said there was no administration or FDA position on a bill that would phase out nontherapeutic use in livestock of seven classes of antibiotics -- penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides, lincosamides, streptogramins, aminoglycosides, sulfonamides -- and any other drug used to treat bacterial illness in people.

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