The Obama Administration convened a “White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship” on June 2, bringing together key human and animal health constituencies to discuss the development, promotion and implementation of activities to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics.

As part of the event, more than 150 food companies, retailers and human and animal health stakeholders were scheduled to highlight commitments to implement changes over the next five years to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections.

Among the companies, three major animal health organizations made commitments to address the challenge. According to a White House release prior to the event:

Elanco Animal Health will dedicate two-thirds of their food animal research budget to attack disease challenges where shared class antibiotics are used routinely because few or no alternatives exist today. Elanco will evaluate 25 new technology platforms to deliver 10 viable development candidates within the next year.

Merck Animal Health developed a commercial surveillance program to monitor multi-drug resistant bacteria, across live animal, beef and dairy production. The outcome of this investment is expected to be a program that can be implemented by veterinarians to understand the pathogens present, throughout the animal’s lifecycle, and to make protocol recommendations based on actual pathogen populations, and their relative susceptibility. By implementing this potential surveillance program, veterinarians will be able to provide targeted, responsible treatments with antibiotics and other therapeutics when needed.

Zoetis committed to place the administration of medically important antibiotics under the direct purview of a veterinarian for the purpose of fighting disease – thereby eliminating their use for growth promotion. Along with this commitment, Zoetis will work directly with veterinarians and livestock producers to implement these important changes to how our products are utilized in food producing animals.

Those and other animal pharmaceutical companies, veterinary and animal agriculture associations and industry organizations have committed to work with veterinarians and feed mill operators to ensure swift and seamless adoption of the FDA’s guidance to align their medically important antibiotic products with FDA’s final rule on veterinary feed directive (VFD) and data collection, including removing growth promotion uses and changing marketing status to require veterinary oversight of product use. They are investing in vaccines, best management practices, on-farm hygiene, and proper nutritional innovations to benefit animal health while lessening the reliance on traditional antibiotics. 

In addition, livestock and poultry farmers, food producers and retailers have taken action or are committing to voluntarily phase out the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion, only accepting product from suppliers that have stopped the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion, or funding research for alternatives and instituting a company-wide policy to eliminate all medically-important antibiotics by a target date. 

A host of other human health organizations and companies also highlighted commitments, including efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing practices in human medicine, sharing Information about the number of resistant pathogens at facility, state and national levels, helping clinicians gain a sense of what drugs are not working in their area; and seek to identify best practices and practical guidance for antibiotic stewardship efforts in their field, supporting innovative changes in best practices related to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance.


Federal agency cafeterias

President Obama used the forum to sign a Presidential Memorandum (PM) directing federal departments and agencies to create a preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use when making purchases for federal agency cafeterias.