Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) applaud the Obama administration and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adopting a new approach for the use of antimicrobial drugs in animal agriculture, according to a TFAH press release. These actions demonstrate a clear commitment to sound and science-based policies that will protect the health of every American.

In a letter to Melody Barnes, President Obama's assistant for domestic policy, IDSA and TFAH expressed their strong support for the administration's new "public health approach to antimicrobial use in animals," which calls for phasing out the use of antimicrobial drugs for growth promotion and feed efficiency. The new approach also requires that all other uses of these drugs be carried out under the supervision of a veterinarian and within the boundaries of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, thereby ending over-the-counter sales of tons of antimicrobial drugs annually.

"We recognize that phasing out antimicrobials from use in animals for growth promotion and feed efficiency will require major changes in the agricultural industry," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., TFAH executive director. "But protection of the public's health must come first, and the phase out can be conducted in a way that takes into account any economic hardships it may impose."

"The strength of leadership shown by the Obama administration-and particularly by Drs. Peggy Hamburg and Josh Sharfstein, FDA's new leadership team-in providing a clear path forward on this highly politically charged issue is a much welcomed breath of fresh air after decades of hand-wringing and inertia," said Robert Guidos, JD, IDSA vice president for public policy and government relations.

The development of antimicrobial agents to treat life-threatening infections has been one of the most notable medical achievements of the past century. Infectious diseases physicians and public health advocates are greatly concerned about the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that antimicrobial drug use in livestock and poultry contributes to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria to people. These experts are elated that these concerns finally are being recognized and addressed by the federal government.

The administration's new vision, which will end decades-old agricultural practices when fully implemented, was articulated in an FDA statement presented by the agency's principal deputy commissioner, Joshua Sharfstein, MD, to the House Rules Committee on July 13. To read the full statement, go to http://www.rules.house.gov/111/oj/hr5419/statements/sharfstein_hr1549_111.pdf