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AHI Statement on WHO Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Food Producing Animals

November 7, 2017 – Animal health companies believe judicious use of antibiotics in all settings is the best way to address the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans.  We have worked to implement judicious use in the United States by working with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure medically important antibiotics are used only to fight disease under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Policy recommendations that focus only on the amount of use fail on two counts.  First, both studies and experience show that programs aimed only at reducing use in animals has not been effective at reducing resistance rates in humans.  Second, such programs lead to more animal disease and death, which undermines good animal welfare and can reduce food safety.

Human health should be the focus of policy recommendations, and the data continues to be encouraging regarding the two pathogens that have sources in agriculture, Salmonella and Campylobacter.  Literature reviews published by a team of scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina found no conclusive evidence of a definitive link between use of antibiotics in food animals and emergence of drug-resistance in these two pathogens.  In addition, trends in the National Antimicrobial Resistant Monitoring System (NARMS) are encouraging, including the fact that resistance in Salmonella in humans has decreased over the 20-year life of the program.

Antibiotics are only one tool among many that farmers and veterinarians use to protect the health and welfare of animals, and protecting animal health is a key step in protecting public health.  The animal health industry is committed to investing in new products to reduce the reliance on antibiotics.  For additional information on our commitment to using antibiotics in a way that protects both human and animal health, see the “Animal Health Sector Commitments and Actions on Antibiotic Use.”

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