Elizabeth Warren Questions FDA Rules for Limiting Antibiotics on Farms

Venessa Wong | Bloomberg Businessweek | March 14, 2014

New voluntary rules to limit the use of antibiotics in agriculture aren’t enough to satisfy Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The Food and Drug Administration announced the rules in December, asking pharmaceutical makers to relabel drugs so that they require a prescription and asking farmers to use them only to treat, control, and prevent disease in livestock, not to add weight. But Warren is now questioning the effectiveness of the FDA’s plan.

The guidelines resulted from concern at the agency that overuse of antibiotics on farms might create drug-resistant bacteria, which can infect not only livestock but also humans. During a hearing by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Thursday, Warren called the FDA’s action a good first step but said it “doesn’t guarantee the prudent use of antibiotics in the context of disease prevention.”

While the guidance is voluntary, the FDA says that is the quickest way to implement changes. At the hearing, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the agency has gotten positive responses about compliance from the drugmakers since it issued the plan.