Big Pharma presses farm antibiotics, as deadly superbugs rise

The U.S. wants to fight superbugs by targeting one of the world’s biggest markets for antibiotics: farms.

Big pharma has other ideas.

Even as the industry prepares to comply with new Food and Drug Administration efforts to limit antibiotic use in American livestock, it is marketing the drugs to U.S. veterinarians while continuing to expand sales elsewhere around the world. Bacteria resistant to antibiotic drugs, or superbugs, are a growing problem particularly in hospitals and claim an estimated 700,000 lives annually. Scientists say there is an intimate link between the health of the planet’s livestock and that of the human population.

“If some of the biggest responsible parties — namely the companies making the products — are still selling the antibiotics in other countries, it just underscores that this has to be a change that happens across the entire world,” said David Wallinga, senior health official and physician at the National Resources Defense Council. “And the companies bear a big responsibility for that approach.”

Companies, farmers and food processors contend that antibiotic drugs remain an essential tool for providing consumers with healthy, plentiful meat and poultry at affordable prices. Even so, they support using alternatives to antibiotics that contribute to superbugs, and some are working on vaccines to do the job antibiotics now perform.

“We’re going through some sort of a phase,” said Jack Bendheim, chief executive officer of Phibro Animal Health Corp., one of the largest global animal-health companies. “Antibiotics work very well. We love these products. We love what they do for the animals.” He spoke at an investor conference in September. read more…

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UK sets new antibiotics target for livestock and fish

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UK has backed the recommendation of an independent review calling for a further cut in antibiotic use in livestock and fish farmed for food to help combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The Government said it is committed to a target of reducing antibiotic use to a “multi-species average of 50mg/kg, using methodology harmonised across other countries in Europe”, by 2018.

The target, which the Government said compares to the most recent 2014 level of 62mg/kg of antibiotic use, is in response to the findings of an AMR review set up by former prime minister David Cameron and led by Lord Jim O’Neill.

In a joint foreword to a Government report responding to the review’s findings, Andrea Leadsom, the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Jeremy Hunt, the country’s Health Secretary, said: “There is a real risk that, if we do nothing, modern medicine as we know it will be undermined.”

The ministers said: “Jim O’Neill is a distinguished economist and has brought not only the skills and analysis of an economist to the problem of drug resistance, but also his understanding of emerging economies. He has identified the huge scale of the challenge, but also the concrete steps we can and must take.”

The UK “will work closely with different individual sectors to ensure that appropriate sector specific reduction targets are agreed by 2017 so that future reductions are greatest where there is most scope, and that they are underpinned by improvements which focus on encouraging best practice and responsible use of antibiotics and which safeguard animal health and welfare”, the government report said. Read more…

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Farm antibiotics – are investors right to be worried

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Emma Rose of the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics argues that the intervention of institutional investors in the antibiotics debate shows that the topic has to be taken seriously.

The overuse of antibiotics in human medicine has been under the spotlight for a number of years. With the human antibiotic resistance crisis set to reach critical proportions, many are calling on GPs, pharmacists and dentists to rein in inappropriate prescription practices, with some leading figures even suggesting sanctions for those who over-prescribe.

The need to tackle human prescribing is still widely considered to be the highest priority in the drive to safeguard our antibiotics, but global attention is increasingly turning to the overuse of antibiotics in farming. Read more…

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Antibiotics in livestock

interesting article in terms of what you need to know regarding use of antibiotics in livestock.

“Antibiotics are a crucial tool in both human and animal medicine, and overusing them threatens their effectiveness. But a lot of the attention on the livestock issue has been around a move towards “antibiotic-free” meat, which misses the point. After all, animals raised in an “antibiotic-free” program still have to be treated with antibiotics if they get sick; they will just wind up in the conventional market if they do. As with so many hot-button issues, the answer lies in the middle: responsible antibiotics use, not a blanket ban. That way we can keep our animals healthy, while also making sure our “miracle drugs” keep working in the future.” Click to read full article…