Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health threat. Like the 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on antibiotic resistance, President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report provides an important perspective and context on antibiotic resistance and the role of both human and animal medicine. The Animal Health Institute (AHI) and its member companies recognize that it is our role, along with farmers and ranchers and veterinarians–and medical doctors – to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and minimize the potential for resistant bacteria. 

While both the PCAST report and the 2013 report on antibiotic resistance released by the CDC highlight that the greatest threats to public health are resistant bacteria produced by human use of antibiotics, the agriculture community of farmers, ranchers and veterinarians recognize they have a stake in this issue and are committed to doing their part to ensure the protection of public health.

The PCAST report also joins the CDC report in supporting FDA’s policy on judicious use of antibiotics in food producing animals.  Judicious use of antibiotics is important in all settings, including agriculture. That’s why everyone in animal agriculture – animal health companies, farmers, ranchers and veterinarians – are working together to implement FDA’s policy to phase out the use of antibiotics to promote growth and phase in veterinarian oversight.   Every company with animal health products affected by this policy has affirmed their intent to comply with FDA’s policy. As a result of FDA’s judicious use policy, all medically important antibiotics used in food animals will be used to fight disease and will be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian.

The report recognizes the important role of carefully using antibiotics to prevent disease.  Every day, veterinarians make prudent choices about how to care for food animals to protect both human and animal health.  Prevention of disease is an important principle in both public health and veterinary medicine.  Prevention in veterinary medicine is evidence-based, meaning the veterinarian prescribing an antibiotic labeled for prevention must have evidence that there is a threat from the disease or the bacteria named on the label.   As Dr. Eric Lander, a member of PCAST and co-chair of the organization’s report, stated:  “Veterinarians will be responsible.”