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FDA asks farmers to reduce animal vaccinations

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Food and Drug Administration is asking pharmaceutical companies to join them in an effort to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals. The FDA says the practice of vaccinating animals has led to an increase in drug resistant bacteria.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Drugs such as penicillin are mixed into animal feed and water then consumed by livestock, especially chickens and pigs. These drugs help the animals gain weight and remain healthy while they are prepared for market. 

Chickens and pigs are important because they share a number of pathogens with humans. 
The agriculture industry says the wide use of antibiotics is necessary to keep animals healthy and maintain production levels that are consistent with demand. 

Under the FDA guidelines, the antibiotics should be used "judiciously" or only when needed to keep animals healthy. The agency is asking for a veterinarian to prescribe the drugs rather than allow farmers to administer the drugs at will. 

Adding a veterinarian to the process is expected to curtail use of antibiotics. William Flynn, deputy director of the FDA's veterinary medicine center said, "Now you have a veterinarian who will be consulting and providing advice to these producers, and we feel that is an important element to assure that they are in fact using these drugs appropriately."

The current recommendations are just that - recommendations. They do not bind or forbid farmers from giving the antibiotics nor do they impose restrictions on drug manufacturers. However, they do ask the companies to change labeling on the drugs and remove listings of "production uses." 

Production uses listed on the drug packaging include, weight gain and accelerated growth. These uses are not related to the health of the animals, but instead translate into profitability for farmers by reducing feed costs.

The FDA says they expect the drug manufacturers will cooperate with the new recommendations. 

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