FDA ordered to act on antibiotic use on livestock farms
A judge has ordered the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action on its own rule that would stop pig, poultry and other livestock producers from mixing antibiotics into animal feed.
The ruling, made last week by US magistrate judge Theodore Katz, compels the agency to withdraw approvals for most non-therapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracyclines in livestock, unless antibiotic manufacturers can show that they are safe. Public health experts don't expect such evidence to emerge.
The suit was originally brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In 1977, the FDA concluded that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock and poultry weakened the treatment's effectiveness when used in human medicine. The agency issued an order that would have banned non-medical use of penicillin and tetracycline in farm animals, unless drugmakers could show the drugs were safe.
The rule was never enforced, following vigorous pushback from Congress members and lobbyists for agricultural organisations and drugmakers. Farming groups have always stated that the drugs are needed to keep animals healthy.
The court said that now those findings obligate the agency to act.
The FDA has 60 days to appeal the ruling. In a statement, the FDA said, "We are studying the opinion and considering appropriate next steps."
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