Don’t drug your livestock

FDA requires prescription for use of antibiotics in farm animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on April 11 that farmers and ranchers will need a prescription from a veterinarian before administering antibiotics to farm animals.

For decades farmers have used antibiotics to help their animals grow larger, which can lead to growth of strains of bacteria resistant to the drugs’ effects, according to The New York Times. Each year, about 2 million people become ill and 99,000 people die from hospital-acquired infections that cannot be treated by antibiotic therapy, because those patients have built immunities to the drugs by consuming meat from treated animals. Currently, about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock.

The guidelines have come under criticism for a potential loophole—farmers will still be allowed to use antibiotics to prevent illness, which could give pharmaceutical companies an opportunity to re-label drugs formerly advertised to promote growth as for disease prevention instead.