Legislation that would require the state of California to collect key information on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture cleared the California State Senate today. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) applauded Senator Byron D. Sher (D) for sponsoring the bill, which CSPI says would help health officials address the growing public health crisis of antibiotic resistance.

The first-in-the-nation bill requires wholesalers and manufacturers to report to the state's Board of Pharmacy all sales of prescription antibiotics for use in agriculture, and to report sales of over-the-counter antibiotics and antibiotic feed additives to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

"More and more people are suffering from infections resistant to antibiotics," said Tamar Barlam, MD, director of CSPI's Antibiotic Resistance Project. "Misuse and overuse of antibiotics by doctors and by farmers are the major contributors to this problem. Senator Sher's legislation would help health authorities figure out how to control antibiotic use, and how to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections in people."

Currently, there are no publicly available data on antibiotic use in farm animals. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that more than four times the amount of medically important antibiotics are used in animals as are used to treat people. This use causes antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can make people sick with harder-to-treat infections.

"The manufacturers know their antibiotics sales information," said Barlam. "It's time they made that information available to the public and health officials so we can develop strategies to combat antibiotic resistance."