AVMA addresses Congress on antimicrobial resistance

Delegates to challenge national association’s stance in January

September 26, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Washington - The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Dr. Christine Hoang testified before congressional lawmakers yesterday, reaffirming the group’s stance that antibiotics prevent illness and maintain the health of food-producing animals.  

The judicious use of drugs like penicillin and tetracycline, linked by some to antibiotic resistance in humans, are beneficial to preserving animal wellbeing as well as food safety, Hoang stated before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.

Her statement echoes testimony by Dr. Lyle Vogel, AVMA assistant executive vice president, who spoke before the U.S. Senate in June.  

“Several risk assessments demonstrate a very low risk to human health from the use of antimicrobials in food animals, and more significantly, some models predict an increased human-health burden if the use is withdrawn,” says Hoang, assistant director of AVMA’s Scientific Activities Division.  

Yet while AVMA portrays a unified stance on the issue, officers within the nation’s largest veterinary medical group are challenging that opinion. The New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association recently approved presenting a resolution before the AVMA House of Delegates in January that  seeks to amend AVMA's Policy on Antimicrobial Use in Animal Feeds to emphasize the importance of the role of the veterinarian and the existence of a valid of a doctor-client-patient relationship.  It also calls for pharmaceutical companies to work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to delete growth promotion and feed efficiency claims from antibiotic drug labels. 

The resolution, authored by Delegate Dr. Robert Gordon, is a less contentious version of one he attempted to present during AVMA’s July meeting in New Orleans, which didn’t get the two-thirds vote it needed to be considered by the full House. It called for reassessing AVMA’s position and encouraging FDA to “withdraw the approvals of all non-therapeutic uses of antimicrobials in food animals for growth promotion and feed efficiency.”

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