Data show volume of antimicrobials sold

Published on January 18, 2011
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About 28.7 million pounds of antimicrobials were sold for use in food-producing animals in 2009, Food and Drug Administraion data state.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine released in early December a report that indicates the total weights of eight classes of antimicrobials sold for use in food-producing animals. An additional category includes the total weight of antimicrobials sold by only one or two sources, which were listed together to avoid disclosing sensitive business information.

"The collection of data on antimicrobial drugs, such as this sales and distribution information, assists FDA's evaluation of antimicrobial resistance trends as well as its analysis of other issues that may arise relating to the safety and effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs approved for use in food-producing animals, such as cattle, swine, and poultry," FDA information states.

FDA scientists are reviewing the data and their relationship to known resistance patterns, but trend analyses may not be possible until several years of data are available, agency information states.

The 2008 amendments to the Animal Drug User Fee Act of 2003 require that the sponsors of applications for new animal drugs that contain antimicrobials report to the FDA how much of each antimicrobial ingredient is sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals. The report does not provide details on the intended use by species or reason for use, and the agency does not track what quantities of antimicrobials are used in other fields of animal care or in human medicine.

The Animal Health Institute issued a statement that the FDA figures on antimicrobial drugs sold are not necessarily connected with drug use, and the data cannot be correlated with the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance. The statement also notes the data show that ionophores account for about 8.2 million pounds of the antimicrobials sold or distributed, and those drugs are not used in human medicine.

The AHI collected antimicrobial sales data from member organizations from 1999-2007, and figures from 2007 indicated about 13 percent of antimicrobials were sold for growth promotion while the rest were sold for therapeutic uses, AHI spokesman Ron Phillips said.

The FDA report includes information from companies that are not members of the AHI, and the AHI statement indicates comparing the report's sales figures with those of the AHI would be problematic.

Domestic use Weight in pounds
Tetracyclines 10.1 million
Ionophores 8.2 million
Macrolides 1.9 million
Penicillins 1.3 million
Sulfas 1.1 million
Aminoglycosides 747,000
Lincosamides 255,000
Cephalosporins 91,000
Others 4.9 million
Export use
Tetracyclines 1.1 million
Others 2.5 million

Source: 2009 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, FDA

The Union of Concerned Scientists announced that the FDA report confirms its analysis that U.S. livestock producers "are using massive amounts of antimicrobial drugs" and risking the effectiveness of the drugs.

In 2001, the UCS published a report that estimated about 24.6 million pounds of antimicrobials were administered to swine, poultry, and cattle annually for what the organization considers to be nontherapeutic purposes, including disease prevention. That report indicated about 10.5 million pounds were used annually in poultry, 10.3 million in hogs, and 3.7 million in cattle.

The AVMA policy "Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials" states that the treatment, control, and prevention of disease are considered to be therapeutic uses.

The figures in the accompanying chart are the total weights of antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals, as reported to the FDA. 

The full report is available at Click on "News & Events," then "CVM Updates" and "2010 CVM Updates."