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FDA retracts ban on animal antibiotics

The US Food and Drug Administration will continue to allow the widespread use of a class of powerful antibiotics in food-producing animals, in a last-minute reversal since calling the practice a public-health risk in July.

This summer the agency's bid to ban many uses of cephalosporin drugs in cows, swine, chickens and other animals came under fire from the industry. Agriculture groups and animal-drug makers, including Pfizer Inc., said the antibiotics are needed to prevent many infectious diseases in animals.

Cephalosporins treat respiratory diseases in cattle and swine but are also often given "off-label" for uses not approved by the FDA to poultry or more generally in livestock for non-approved infectious diseases.

On July 3, the FDA announced a planned crackdown on off-label uses in animals, citing "the importance of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans". Five days before the ban was to take effect, on Nov. 25, the FDA quietly revoked it with a notice in the Federal Register. The FDA's statement said the agency received many comments and needed more time to review them.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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