December 15, 2014

Senators Warren, Feinstein and Gillibrand Ask Interagency Task Force About Efforts to Combat Antibiotic Overuse in Food Animals

WASHINGTON, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today sent a letter to Secretaries Hagel, Vilsack, and Burwell, co-chairs of the newly formed interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, to ask about how the Task Force plans to address critical gaps in current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policies to address the public health threat posed by the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.

In today’s letter, the senators raised concerns that “the FDA may lack the authority to ensure veterinarians adhere to the criteria laid out in its guidance documents for determining an appropriate preventive use, that the FDA may not have the authority to collect the data necessary to evaluate whether its policies effectively reduce the public health threat, and that the administration has no clear metrics or benchmarks that will be used to determine success or a need for future action.” The senators previously wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in July to request information about how the agency plans to address these gaps.

In his September 18th Executive Order, the President created the Interagency Task Force and charged it with developing a National Action Plan to implement the National Strategy for Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. In their letter, Senators Warren, Feinstein and Gillibrand asked the Interagency Task Force to answer questions about how the National Action Plan will address gaps in enforcement, data collection, and evaluation of FDA policies. “The way antibiotics are used in animal agriculture poses a clear threat to human health”, the Senators wrote, “and it is critical that the National Action Plan directly addresses gaps in current policies designed to curb such misuse and over-use.”