Issue Brief

Leading Physicians and Scientists Ask FDA to Rein in Drug Use in Food Animals


July 10, 2012

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

and

The Honorable Margaret Hamburg, MD
Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration
 10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

Dear President Obama and Commissioner Hamburg:

As recognized leaders in the U.S. scientific and medical community, we applaud the FDA’s recent actions to promote judicious use of antibiotics in food-producing animals through recommendations, delineated in its guidance documents. We support your guidance that antibiotics not be used for growth promotion and feed efficiency, and that there be veterinary oversight in the dispensing of antibiotics—particularly in feed and water, where whole herds and flocks are the recipients. These voluntary guidances represent a significant shift in U.S. public health protection, as they begin to address the high risks that non-judicious use of antimicrobials in animals pose for human health – in the form of increases in drug resistance and potential treatment failures. We are concerned, however, that they are insufficient and that stronger regulation is needed.

There is no reason to expect compliance from agribusiness, in view of its long history of rebuffing regulatory efforts to curb antibiotic use. In addition, FDA considers use of antibiotics for disease prevention to be a therapeutic use, essential to animal health. Since many drugs that have been approved for growth promotion purposes have also been approved for routine disease prevention, we are concerned that industry will not reduce overall antibiotic use, but merely shift from growth promotion to prevention. We request that FDA address antibiotics used for prevention and recommend and provide incentives for using alternative strategies, such as vaccines, probiotics, and improved management practices, for disease prevention and control. We suggest that further guidance clearly describe plans for monitoring progress. Specifically, the further development of our national antimicrobial resistance monitoring system to include more geographic representation and species-specific data on resistance and antimicrobial use in animals and humans would go a long way to inform and evaluate practitioner compliance and outcomes.

According to the U.S. CDC and WHO, antimicrobial resistance is one of the top five public health threats. What is needed is an overall reduction in antimicrobial use, achieved by offering economic incentives to adopting alternatives in conjunction with further regulatory and legislative action. We strongly support the passage of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA, H.R. 1549, S.619), which would withdraw the use of seven classes of antibiotics that are critically important to human health from food animal production, unless specific disease conditions apply. Now is the time to act. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Stuart Levy, MD
ASM* Past President

Francisco J. Ayala, PhD
AAAS** President

Mario Capecchi, PhD
2007 Nobel Laureate

Julian Davies, PhD
ASM Past President

Walter Gilbert, PhD
1980 Nobel Laureate

Michael S. Gilmore, PhD
Sir William Osler Professor

Carol Greider, PhD
2009 Nobel Laureate

James Hughes, MD
Professor, Immediate Past-President, IDSA***

George Jacoby, MD
Head, Infectious Disease, Lahey Clinic

Molly Jahn, PhD
Professor, former Deputy Under Secretary for USDA

Michael Katz, MD
Professor Emeritus

Gerald T. Keusch, MD
Professor, Former Director Fogarty Center, NIH

Calvin Kunin, MD
Clinical Professor

Stephen A. Lerner, MD
Professor of Medicine

Jay Levy, MD
Professor, Head of Laboratory, AAAS & AAM**** Fellow

Jeff F. Miller, PhD
ASM President

Richard Novick, MD
Professor of Microbiology and Medicine

Stanley Prusiner, MD
1997 Nobel Laureate

Moselio Schaechter, PhD
ASM Past President

Thomas Schmidt, PhD
2011 President Elect ASM

Alexander Tomasz, PhD
Professor, Head of Rockefeller Laboratory

Biographies

Stuart B. Levy, MD
President and Chairman, APUA; Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at the Tufts University School of Medicine, 2012 Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award Laureate, Past ASM President

Francisco J. Ayala, PhD
President and Chairman of the Board of the AAAS; University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Logic and the Philosophy of Science, University of California, Irvine; 2001 National Medal of Science; 2010 Templeton Prize

Mario Capecchi, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Human Genetics and Biology, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine; 2007 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine; 1996 Kyoto Prize laureate

Julian Davies, PhD
Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia; Chief Scientific Officer TerraGen Diversity, Inc.; Past President of the ASM; Fellow the Royal Societies of London and Canada; 1999 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Infectious Disease Research

Walter Gilbert, PhD
Member, Board of Scientific Governors, The Scripps Research Institute; Co-founder of Biogen, Myriad Genetics and Paratek; Past Chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University; Chairman, Harvard Society of Fellows; 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

Michael S. Gilmore, PhD
Sir William Osler Professor, Departments of Ophthalmology, Microbiology and Immunobiology; Member, Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program, Harvard Medical School; Member, Microbial Sciences Initiative, Harvard University; Associate, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Carol Greider, PhD
Daniel Nathans Professor & Director of Molecular Biology & Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; 2010 IOM Member; 2009 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine; 2006 Dickson Prize in Medicine and Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research

James Hughes, MD
Professor of Medicine and Public Health, Emory University; Executive Director, Southeastern Center for Emerging Biologic Threats; Senior Scientific Advisor for Infectious Diseases, International Association of National Public Health Institutes; Immediate Past-President, IDSA; Vice-Chair, IOM Forum on Microbial Threats; the CDC Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award; ASM Gen–Probe Joseph Award

George Jacoby, MD
Head, Infectious Disease Department, Lahey Clinic; Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School; Editor, Editor-in-Chief, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy; Fellow of the AAM

Molly Jahn, PhD
Professor, Laboratory of Genetics and Department of Agronomy, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, and Past Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; 2009 Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics at USDA

Michael Katz, MD
Senior Advisor, Transdisciplinary Research and Interim Medical Director March of Dimes Foundation; Carpentier Professor, emeritus of Pediatrics, Professor of Public Health, emeritus Columbia University

Gerald T. Keusch, MD
Professor of Medicine and International Health, Special Assistant for Global Health for the University President; Associate Director, National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Boston University; Former Director, Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Calvin Kunin, MD
Clinical Professor, Visiting Consultant, Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Section, University of Arizona

Stephen A Lerner, MD
Professor, Medicine (Infectious Disease), Award for Leadership and Teaching Excellence in Continuing Medical Education, Wayne State University School of Medicine; Executive Councilor, Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition; Past Chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Microbiological Societies

Jay Levy, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Research Associate in the Cancer Research Institute UCSF, Head of the Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research, University of California, San Francisco; Fellow of the AAAS, the AAM, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Award of Distinction by the American Foundation for AIDS Research

Jeff F. Miller, PhD
M. Philip Davis Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology Immunology, and Molecular Genetics UCLA; ASM President

Richard Novick, MD
Professor, Departments of Microbiology, Medicine and Molecular Pathogenesis, New York University Langone Medical Center

Stanley Prusiner, MD
Director, Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California, San Francisco; 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine; 1994 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research

Moselio Schaechter, PhD
Member & Board of Governors, AAM; Past ASM President, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Tufts University School of Medicine; Adjunct Professor Emeritus, Department of Biology, San Diego State University; Visiting Scholar, University of California, San Diego

Thomas Schmidt, PhD
Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University; 2011 President Elect ASM; 2010 ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award

Alexander Tomasz, PhD
Dr. Plutarch Papamarkou Professor and Head of Rollin D. Hotchkiss’s Rockefeller Laboratory, Columbia University; 1987 Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology; 1982 ASM Hoechst-Roussel Award

* - ASM = American Society for Microbiology
** - AAAS = American Association for the Advancement of Science
***  - IDSA = Infectious Disease Society of America
**** - AAM =American Academy of Microbiology

cc: Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Harry Reid, US Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell, US Senate Minority Leader
John Boehner, Speaker of the House
Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, US House of Representatives
Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader, US House of Representatives
Bernadette Dunham, Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA

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