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Are animal drugs approved by the government?
Yes. The U.S. has a regulatory system in place to ensure that safe and effective medicines get to the animals that need them. Like human medicines, animal medicines undergo extensive trials and testing, and must be approved by federal government before they are put in the marketplace. Drug trials are conducted by veterinarians and scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before they are put on the market. Veterinarians and scientists at the EPA, FDA and USDA oversee how animal medicines are administered.
Why are medicines needed for food-producing animals?
Just like people, animals can also get sick. Medicines are needed to prevent and control disease outbreaks in flocks and herds. When illnesses do occur, medicines are needed to treat diseases. Animal medicines not only protect the health and welfare of animals, but they also help safeguard human health by making our food safer. That’s why it is essential for veterinarians to continue to have a broad range of animal medicines available to them in the fight against animal diseases.
Animal medicines are needed to:
- Prevent diseases – Vaccines and pharmaceuticals are needed to prevent and control infectious diseases among livestock and poultry.
- Treat sick animals – Antibiotics are necessary for the treatment of sick animals, and to prevent the spread of disease to other livestock.
- Control outbreaks – Veterinarians use medicines to control internal and external parasites in animals.
What are antibiotics and why are they used in food animals?
Antibiotics are compounds produced by various living organisms, such as yeast or fungi. They inhibit the growth of or destroy certain organisms, such as bacteria. They are used to prevent and treat diseases in both animals and humans.
For more than 40 years, antibiotics have played a critical role in keeping our nation’s food animals healthy. Eighty-seven percent of antibiotics in animal health are used for disease treatment, control and prevention. About 13 percent of those antibiotics are used to maintain the health of animals as measured by feed efficiency and average daily weight gain, a practice that also results in disease suppression within a herd or flock.
Does the use of antibiotics in food animals put humans more at risk from antibiotic resistant disease?
It is POSSIBLE for resistant bacteria to transfer from animals to humans. That’s why many steps have been taken to reduce this potential and allow producers to use antibiotics to keep animals healthy without having a negative impact on public health. For instance, FDA specifically examines this potential transfer in the regulatory review process, and imposes various restrictions on companies to guard against this transfer. The USDA tests for drug residues in meat, and the FDA operates a program that monitors for resistant bacteria in humans, animals and meats – all these programs are designed to ensure resistant bacteria don’t transfer to humans when antibiotics are used to keep animals healthy.
In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that levels of resistant foodborne bacteria in humans are decreasing. USDA data show that the presence of pathogens on raw meat has been reduced, and the CDC FoodNet has reported a 23 percent decline in foodborne illness since 1996.
Who regulates animal antibiotics?
Like human medicines, all animal medicines are required by law to meet certain standards before going to market. Antibiotics undergo a rigorous review process by the FDA, which approves all antibiotics used for food-producing animals. All products approved by the FDA for use in food-producing animals must pass significant human- and food-safety benchmarks. This process helps protect human health while giving veterinarians and farmers the tools they need to keep animals healthy.
Do AHI member companies follow regulated judicious use guidelines?
Since 1998, AHI has supported the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Judicious Use of Antimicrobials. The guidelines specifically outline the following appropriate uses of antibiotics:
- Problem prevention — Emphasize appropriate husbandry and hygiene, routine health examinations and vaccinations.
- Veterinary oversight — Licensed veterinarians should work with producers to make decisions on the selection and use of antibiotics.
- First-line therapy — Veterinarians discourage the use of antibiotics that are important to treating strategic human or animal infections as first-line therapy.
- Prioritize treatment — Limit antibiotic use to sick or at-risk animals to treat the fewest number of animals possible.
- Scientific analysis — Maintain accurate records of treatment and analyze the outcomes to evaluate therapeutic regimens.
What is “One Health?”
One Health is a growing international movement that promotes communication among physicians, veterinarians and other life-sciences professionals, and has been endorsed by many national and global organizations concerned with emerging infectious diseases, as well as other public-health threats.
AHI shares the same goals as the American Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association to examine, address, and eradicate diseases at the nexus of animal and public health.
Which One Health initiatives does AHI participate in?
AHI actively participates in the One Health Academy, the One Health Commission, and the One Health Initiative. We also have held several events to further the One Health conversation in Washington, D.C., by bringing together thought leaders from the CDC, the USDA and the FDA, as well as human health and veterinary health practitioners. For more information, visit Healthy People. Healthy Animals. Healthy Planet .