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Center for a Livable Future


October 2, 2014

Updated FDA Report Shows Increase in Antibiotics Sold for Use in Animal Agriculture

Today, the U. S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) published its annual report outlining the sales and distribution data of antimicrobial drugs approved for use in food-producing animals. According to the report, the FDA found a 16 percent increase in the total quantity of medically important antimicrobials sold for use in food animal production between 2009 and 2012. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) expressed concern about food animal production’s continued misuse of drugs that are necessary to treat a variety of human infections, especially in the light of the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance .

“This report confirms existing concerns about antibiotics in food animal production,” said Keeve Nachman, PhD, director of the Food Production and Public Health program at CLF. “The vast majority of antibiotics used in animal agriculture are important in human medicine, and most of them are being fed to animals that aren’t sick.”

An executive order and corresponding White House report released last month by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology outlined strategies to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria with little focus on the role of food animal production. Nachman and colleagues believe the FDA’s data strengthen the need for more meaningful action and an increased focus on antimicrobial use in food animal production.

“Despite the improved presentation of data in this report, there is still a stunning gap between what the agency collects and what it allows scientists to know,” said Nachman. “These gaps are a major roadblock in evaluating FDA’s approach to dealing with a global health crisis.”

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future media contact: Natalie Wood-Wright at 443-824-1371 or