Bills have been introduced in the US Congress that
would phase-out within two years the non-therapeutic use in animal feed of
antibiotics that are deemed important to human medicine. They also would require
manufacturers to submit information on the amounts of such drugs
The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act was introduced in
the Senate by Edward
Kennedy (Democrat-Massachusetts), Chair of the Senate Health,
Education, Labour and Pensions Committee along with Senator Olympia Snowe
(Republican-Maine). The House version was introduced by Rules Committee Chair,
Louise Slaughter (Democrat-New
York), the only microbiologist in Congress.
Pressure has been growing to
discontinue the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed citing the
growing resistance to the medicines in humans.
The bill also requires the
pharmaceutical companies making agricultural antibiotics to submit data on the
quantity of drugs they sell, along with information on the claimed purpose and
the dosage form of those drugs, to help public health officials track the
implementation of the phase-out.
It is said the bill has the support of
more than 350 health, agriculture and other groups. It would phase-out within
two years the use of antibiotics in animal feed that are also important to human
medicine such as penicillin.
Supporters say it still leaves farmers many
antibiotics that are not used in human medicine. The bill also authorizes funds
to help farmers defray the cost of phasing out the use of medically-important
Similar bills were introduced in previous Congresses but
never made it to the floor of the respective Houses, but proponents think they
have a better chance this year in a Congress controlled by Democrats.