Sunday :: Mar 4, 2007

Genuflecting to Industry, Bush Admin Once More Sells Out People

by Mary

When penicillin was discovered in 1896, for the first time people had an upperhand in the life and death battle with deadly bacteria. But the misuse of these miracle drugs has created strains of bacteria that cannot be killed by any antibiotics. One area of particular concern is the use of antibiotics in our food animals which has led to the emergence of strains of bacteria that are drug resistant. Here's an FDA report put out under Clinton's watch that clearly describes the problem.

Under Bush's administration, anti-regulation fever to promote whatever industry wants to make a buck makes today's FDA an enemy of the people. Why? Because despite the recognition that authorizing the use of a particular class of antibiotics for use by the cattle industry can lead to drug-resistant pneumonia, the Bush FDA has written the regulations so that the effect on human health cannot be considered when deciding whether the company can sell this type of antibiotic to the cattle industry.

The shame of it is there is no need to use this antibiotic for cattle because there are other drugs that are already being used that are working. Furthermore, if the cattle industry just treated their animals better, they wouldn't need any of these drugs to have healthier cattle. And the advisory panel has come out against allowing this antibiotic to be used in cattle.

The panel also learned that the disease would be a relatively minor issue but for the stressful conditions under which U.S. cattle are raised, including high-density living spaces and routine shipment on crowded trains for hundreds or thousands of miles. Those "production dynamics" suppress the animals' immune systems, explained feedlot consultant Kelly Lechtenberg of Oakland, Neb., and virtually guarantee that bovine respiratory disease will be a major problem.

Yet Stephen Sundlof, head of the FDA's Veterinary Medicine Center, told the panel members that under agency rules they should ignore those issues and consider only the language in Guidance #152.

What is this language? It says the FDA can only stop using antibiotics in animals if it necessary to stop the development of resistance in a food-borne illnesses, but not if it might create resistance in an non-food-borne illness, which is the case for pneumonia.

Cefquinome's primary threat is that it may undermine the usefulness of the closely related human drug, cefepime. But as it turns out, the FDA does not consider cefepime a front-line drug against food-borne infections. So although it is a highly important drug in human medicine generally -- and although the Infectious Diseases Society of America even recommends it against some food-borne bacteria -- that risk does not count under the terms of Guidance #152.

Go read it, get mad, and then write to your representatives and your local papers. Don't let the Bush administration sell out our health in this way.

Update: Dave Johnson has more at The Huffington Post about why this is a problem with the conservative mindset. Natasha looks at the problem of our food quality over at Pacific Views.

Mary :: 9:36 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!