Sales of antibiotics intended for domestic food animals increased from 2009 to 2010, according to new data released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Pew Health Group analyzed the numbers in the report, the second-ever issued by FDA, which showed a boost of 6.7 percent, from 28.8 million pounds in 2009 to 30.6 million pounds in 2010.
If ionophores, which are used exclusively on animals, are excluded from the analysis, the increase is 8.6 percent.
Pew points out that the increase in antimicrobial sales is greater than the 1.3 percent increase in meat production, which was up by 1.2 billion pounds to 92.1 billion pounds.
Laura Rogers, project director for the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming said the report backs up their calls for reforms.
“This report confirms what we already know: industrial farms are using antibiotics on a massive scale that far exceeds what doctors are using to treat sick people,” said Rogers. “As a result, infections are becoming more difficult and expensive to treat. The time for the Administration to protect our health is long overdue.”
Ron Phillips, vice president for legislative and public affairs for the Animal Health Institute, which represents the animal pharmaceutical industry, said the numbers do not necessarily illustrate a trend.
“In the eight years that AHI voluntarily collected and released this data, we saw many year-to-year changes — both up and down — in this range,” said Phillips. “These two limited data points are not sufficient to draw any conclusions.”
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist serving in Congress, continues to push for a bill that would restrict farmers from using seven classes of antibiotics, deemed important for human health, unless needed to treat sick animals. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced similar legislation last summer.