Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Monday to ask for more information regarding the agency’s efforts to curb the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production. The senators called Guidance #213 and the proposed rule on Veterinary Feed Directives (VFDs) “important first steps” but said they “remain concerned that they may not be sufficient.” Specifically, they worry that the remaining approved uses of antibiotics to contain and prevent diseases are not strictly defined and still allow for continuous administration of low doses of antibiotics throughout an animal’s life. And veterinary oversight alone won’t be able to solve the problem, they add. The senators asked FDA to respond to these specific questions by Sept. 8, 2014:

  • How do you intend to determine whether the non-judicious use of antibiotics in food animal production materially declines as a consequence of guidance documents #209 and #213, or simply continues under disease prevention or containment labels?
  • If no change in overall usage is observed, what steps will the FDA take to address the public health threat of antibiotic overuse in food animal production?
  • What actions does the FDA plan to take to make sure that approved labeling indications do not pose the same risks of fostering resistance as the production uses that are being voluntarily phased out in response to guidance documents #209 and #213?
  • What is your plan for completing inspections of facilities to ensure proper collection and enforcement of VFDs? What, if any, additional resources or authorities are needed?
  • How do you plan to collect and compile data from the VFDs to better track how specific antibiotics are being used in different types of animals?