Antibiotic sales for livestock continue to rise 'against the backdrop of a crisis'

Sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals increased by 1 percent from 2014 through 2015, according to an annual report issued by the Food and Drug Administration.

While the sale of these antibiotics did go up, the increase marked the smallest rise in sales since 2009 when the increase was also 1 percent. Additionally, the sales numbers are not necessarily indicative of use. According to the FDA, purchasers of such medicines may buy them in anticipation of use and subsequently shelve them until a later date.

"The FDA is working with federal, academic and industry partners to obtain more information about how, when and why animal producers and veterinarians use those classes of antimicrobial drugs that are important to human medicine," said the regulatory agency in a statement.

The release of the new data comes after bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics were reported on U.S. pig farms for the first time earlier this month.

In response to the FDA's report, David Wallinga, MD, senior health officer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote, "The news is not good. Sales just keep rising. Against the backdrop of a crisis in now untreatable or nearly untreatable infections, this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action to address the ongoing overuse of the drugs in livestock."

According to the FDA, sales of antibiotics designed for human use increased by 2 percent from 2014 through 2015.

More articles on infection control: 
Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella causes more than 6,000 illnesses per year 
The 241 hospitals punished 3 years in a row for high infection rates 
Top 10 infection control stories, Dec. 19-23

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