President Barack Obama’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) yesterday issued their report, as the request of the president, on combating antibiotic resistance.  Obama also issued an Executive Order to implement recommendations from PCAST and create a task force and presidential advisory council to combat antibiotic resistance.  There were no new regulatory changes announced.  The task force will be co-chaired by the secretaries of Defense, Agriculture and Health and Human Services, as well as a presidential advisory council made up of top non-governmental experts.

US-WhiteHouse-LogoThe Executive Order charges this task force to submit by February 15, 2015 a five-year National Action Plan to the president that outlines specific actions to be taken to implement the strategy.  Specifically, this executive order encourages more appropriate oversight of the use of antibiotics in hospitals, as well as better tracking of antibiotic use and the development of new antibiotics and tests.  The order focuses primarily on the use of antibiotics in human health; however, it does have several mentions of antibiotic use in livestock.

“Preserving antibiotics’ effectiveness, both in humans and animals, is a responsibility chicken producers take seriously,” said NCC Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., in reaction to the PCAST report.  “To that extent, we have supported FDA’s Guidances #209 and #213 that will phase out by 2016 the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals for growth enhancement.  We also support FDA’s proposed Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that ensures that all antibiotics administered to food producing animals are only done so under the care and prescription of a licensed veterinarian.

Ashley Peterson, Ph.D.

Ashley Peterson, Ph.D.

“Two classes of antibiotics that FDA deems critically important to human medicine, especially for treating foodborne illness in humans—flouroquinolones and cephalosporins—have already been phased-out of chicken production for a number of years.”

Peterson concluded, “We look forward to working with the new task force as we continue to implement these new FDA policies, especially as the work relates to defining metrics for success and conducting more research in the area of antibiotic resistance.”

Specifically relating to animal agriculture, the report notes that PCAST strongly supports FDA’s new Guidances 209 and 213, designed to promote the judicious use of antibiotics in agriculture.  In this area, PCAST also recommended that:

  1. FDA should proceed vigorously with the implementation of these guidances including completing its rule-making to update the language of the Veterinary Feed Directive.
  2. USDA, through its Cooperative Extension Service, should establish and lead a national education and stewardship program to assist farmers, ranchers, and animal agriculture producers across the United States in complying with these FDA guidances. USDA should also work to ensure that information is distributed in an effective and timely manner to licensed veterinarians, clarifying veterinarians’ new roles in overseeing the use of antibiotics.
  3. FDA should assess progress by monitoring changes in total sales of antibiotics in animal agriculture and, where possible, in usage of such antibiotics; and by developing and undertaking studies to assess whether decreases are observed in antibiotic resistance among farm animals. If the FDA guidances are not effective in mitigating the risk of antibiotic resistance associated with antibiotic use in animal agriculture, FDA should take additional measures to protect human health.

The full report can be accessed here.

To read the FDA’s take on the PCAST report and Executive Order, click here.