Today’s antibiotic sales data report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a small part of the story about the public health impact of antibiotics used to keep food animals healthy.

National sales information is limited in its use and does not necessarily correlate to national resistance trends.  Several recent reports help complete the picture of the impact of agricultural use of antibiotics:

  • A December, 2013 report on antibiotic resistance threats from the Center for Disease Control which listed 18 specific pathogenic threats with only two of those 18 having potential sources in agriculture.
  • The recent report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) also places agricultural use in the broader context of human health being the largest contributor and praised the FDA’s new judicious use policy.
  • Data released by the FDA’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) in August showed 85 percent of non-typhoidal Salmonella collected from humans had no resistance to any of the antibiotics tested.  Over the life of the NARMS program this measurement of resistance in people has steadily declined.
  • A recent review by researchers at Harvard notes “from the proportion of antibiotics by weight used in agriculture as opposed to human medicine it does not follow that the majority of selective pressure on human pathogens, let alone the majority of human health impact of antibiotic resistance, results from agricultural uses.”

“Animal health companies are committed to continuous improvement of judicious use,” said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews.  “That is reflected in our work with FDA to implement the agency’s judicious use policy.  When fully implemented, medically important antibiotics will be used in food animals only to fight disease under the supervision of a veterinarian.”