Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter Lurie

The Food and Drug Administration's most recent annual report on antimicrobial use in agriculture sends a disappointing message: although sales remain down from historic highs, the declines of recent years appear to have been arrested and may even have been reversed. Overall sales of medically important antibiotics for use in food-producing animals rose by 9 percent between 2017 and 2018, with the biggest proportion of that increase coming from use of tetracyclines in swine and cattle.

These data show that work to foster responsible antibiotics use is by no means finished. The FDA has previously taken steps to prohibit antibiotics from being added to feed and water to promote growth and to require a veterinarian’s prescription before antibiotics could be used. The new numbers provide added urgency to FDA’s current efforts to further tighten safeguards by preventing antibiotics from being prescribed for unlimited durations and, more generally, to ensure that antibiotics are only used for carefully defined purposes.

We urge the FDA to move forward without delay with further steps to preserve these precious medicines. In particular, efforts should focus on use of antibiotics in cattle and swine, which combined account for more than 80 percent of all sales of medically important antibiotics.