San Francisco Physicians to Urge Federal Officials to Curb Overuse of Antibiotics in Animals
San Francisco physicians, concerned about "growing human resistance" to antibiotics used in livestock and poultry, plan to "push" Congress and the FDA to limit use of the drugs in agriculture, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. According to physicians, the livestock and poultry industries should use antibiotics "only to fight disease," not to promote growth and prevent infections, tactics that can breed strains of drug-resistant bacteria that could infect humans. Leaders of the San Francisco Medical Society held a conference last Friday to discuss the "connection between the widespread use" of antibiotics on farms and evidence that their "continued presence in foods can make many common disease-causing microbes resistant to the drugs designed to kill them." Dr. Philip Lee, former chancellor of the University of California-San Francisco, said, "There's no question that antibiotics used so widely on huge factory farms are posing a real threat to human health, and it's not a problem that doctors can deal with in their offices." Lee said that the FDA -- aided by Congress -- could provide a "major contribution to human health" by regulating the use of "non-therapeutic" antibiotics in animals and banning four specific antibiotics used as "animal growth-promoters." Dr. Rolland Lowe, former president of the California Medical Association, said that the group has begun "mobilizing" doctors statewide, as well as more than 60 community health organizations, to "spread knowledge" about overuse of the drugs in the livestock and poultry industries.
Meanwhile, Dr. B. Joseph Guglielmo, professor of clinical pharmacy at UCSF, said at the conference that doctors are also responsible for prescribing "far too many antibiotics indiscriminately" to treat "minor" infections. Other physicians agreed that overprescribing "might still be a major contributor" to bacterial resistance to antibiotic drugs. According to Singer, "the harsh reality is that resistance to antibiotics occurs because of overuse in humans." The SFMS recently persuaded the CMA to pass a resolution "condemning" unregulated use of antibiotics in the livestock and poultry industries. In addition, SFMS plans to hold a major national conference to "weigh all sides" of the "growing problem" and hopes to "spread public awareness" of the issue (Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.