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For Immediate
August 9, 1998


For more information:

Consumer Group Opposes FDA Approval of
Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic for Livestock

Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of Baytril, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, for use in livestock. Patricia Lieberman, Ph.D., a scientist who directs the Antibiotic-resistance Project at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), had the following comment.

Bayer has agreed to limit or stop the sale of Baytril if the FDA determines that its use in cattle leads to antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause human disease. While that voluntary agreement is a step in the right direction, CSPI fears that it won’t hold up. Bayer is a major supplier of fluoroquinolones for flock-wide use in poultry, a use that has resulted in fluoroquinolone resistance in Campylobacter bacteria. But the same company has not stopped selling the drug to poultry growers (nor has the FDA banned its sale).

That is why the FDA should not have approved Baytril -- especially when other antibiotics are just as effective in treating bovine respiratory infections. At a minimum it should have required automatic withdrawal of Baytril if harmful fluoroquinolone-resistant bacteria reach levels set by the FDA and CDC.

Fluoroquinolones are important in human medicine, so it is distressing that the FDA has approved their use in cattle and poultry. Farmers also should not rely on antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention. That would preserve them for use when they were really necessary. In 1997, the World Health Organization recommended phasing out the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of livestock.

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