FDA to Update Medically Important Animal Antibiotics List
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the U.S., likely worsening the global threat of antibiotic resistance, it is more important than ever that antibiotics are used appropriately and only when necessary. That includes use in animal agriculture, as antibiotic use anywhere contributes to the emergence of resistance.
As part of its five-year plan to improve antibiotic use in animal agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to update its list of medically important antibiotics, which ranks the drugs based on their value to human medicine. The list, commonly referred to as Appendix A, as it was called when it was first published in FDA’s 2003 guidance for the safety evaluation of new animal drugs, has a far-reaching impact because it determines which drugs are governed by the agency’s policies for improving antibiotic stewardship in food animals.
To help understand the issues involved, The Pew Charitable Trusts spoke with Karin Hoelzer, a veterinarian who leads our work on antibiotic use in animal agriculture, and Helene Sherburne, who works on our antibiotic resistance project. Together they answered questions about the list and the factors FDA should consider in its update. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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