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US: antibiotics phased out in two years time

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 sold.

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act was introduced in the Senate by Edward Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts), 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 authorises funds to help farmers defray the cost of phasing out the use of medically-important antibiotics.

Similar bills
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.

In the European Union, antibiotic growth promoters were banned from animal feed as from January 1st, 2006.

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