Summary of Testimony on Antimicrobial Resistance by AVMA Executive Vice President

Executive Summary of Testimony

Lyle P. Vogel, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
American Veterinary Medical Association

June 24, 2008

The American Veterinary Medical Association acknowledges the significant challenges presented by antimicrobial resistance in human medicine. However, scientific evidence shows that the role and contribution of antimicrobials used in veterinary medicine and/or animal agriculture in that problem are minimal. In summary:

  • Seemingly "appropriate" solutions to this minimal risk may minimally improve public health but, in the long run, will harm animal health and welfare and could eventually harm public health due to increased foodborne disease.
  • The Danish/European model being offered as a possible solution should not be emulated because their blanket ban on growth-promoting antimicrobial use in food producing animals has not significantly improved human health and has jeopardized animal health and welfare, and food safety.
  • An analysis that compared the stringent regulatory strategy of the European Union with that of the United States, which supports prudent use to prevent and control animal infections, together with measures to improve food safety, has some pertinent conclusions, one of which is that prudent use of animal antibiotics may actually improve human health.
  • Information gathered and reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate that human cases of the main antimicrobial resistant foodborne disease seen by human health practitioners (salmonellosis) have significantly decreased in the last 10 years. And, in this time period, there has been a highly significant decrease in the resistance of Salmonella species and the resistance of Campylobacter species has slightly decreased or remained relatively stable.
  • Actions have already been taken by the veterinary medical community to ensure and support the development and implementation of judicious use guidelines for the use of veterinary antimicrobials.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has implemented additional procedures to review the human health effects related to antimicrobial resistance potentially associated with the use of antimicrobials in food animals.

The AVMA does not believe that additional legislation is needed to regulate the uses of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine and animal agriculture and will, in fact, put animal health and welfare and public health at risk. The Food and Drug Administration has adequate authority for oversight but lacks the resources to accomplish its many priorities. What is needed, however, is improved monitoring and surveillance (and timelier reporting) of resistance, improved epidemiological studies to examine the causality of antimicrobial resistance, and risk-based decisions based on scientific evidence related to specific drugs and specific uses.