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For Immediate
Release:
November 10, 1999

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  House Bill Introduced to Preserve Effectiveness of Antibiotics

WASHINGTON - The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today lauded a bill introduced by Representatives Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) that could help preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics. The bill, The Preservation of Essential Antibiotics for Human Diseases Act of 1999, stipulates that no human-use antibiotic should be allowed for fattening livestock, unless the manufacturer proves that such use does not increase antibiotic resistance in bacteria that could harm people.

   The bill targets those antibiotics that are added to livestock feed to counteract the crowded, stressful conditions of factory farms. That use has come under fire by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has been banned by the European Union.

   “Antibiotics are precious medicines that are desperately needed to save lives. They should not be squandered to fatten livestock if that use leads to resistant bacteria that can sicken consumers,” said Patricia B. Lieberman, CSPI staff scientist. “This bill holds the drug companies responsible for ensuring that the use of antibiotics on farms does not increase the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.”

   The bill states that seven human-use antibiotics, including penicillin and tetracycline, already approved as livestock feed additives must be banned if, within two years, the drug maker does not submit data that proves that such use is safe. In addition, prior to approval, new antibiotics for growth promotion would be held to the same standard.