Since I posted last night on the judge’s order that the Food and Drug Administration examine the safety of farm antibiotics — via hearings that the Food and Drug Administration scheduled, but never held, back in 1977 — a lot has happened. Here’s a round-up.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, lead plaintiffs in the suit (with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen and Union of Concerned Scientists) has put up a press release/explainer, accompanied by a blog post written by
lead attorney Avinash Kar. (Correction: The lead attorney is Jen Sorenson.) Key quote from Kar:
The judge’s opinion makes it clear that FDA’s voluntary approach—letting the industry police itself—does not satisfy its legal obligations. FDA must schedule hearings to let drug manufacturers make their case, and if the drug manufacturers cannot prove that the use of antibiotics in animal feed is safe, FDA must withdraw approval for those drug uses.
Kar’s comment to me: “We think this is a great step forward for public health. For 35 years, FDA has basically sat on the sidelines, mostly letting the industry police itself. In that time we have seen a massive rise in the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This means we now will ensure that we preserve these lifesaving medicines for those who need them most.”
I asked the press office this morning at the Center for Veterinary Medicine, the FDA division named in the order, if the agency has a response yet. They said: “We are studying the opinion and considering appropriate next steps.”