Australian veterinary medicine regulator defends continued antibiotic despite US ban

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th January 2012

The Australian Government’s Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has defended itself following media reports on a US ban on certain uses of a class of antibiotic in livestock.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an order on 4 January 2012 prohibiting certain uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys effective 5 April 2012.

Antibiotic use in animals is a potential problem for human medicine because antibiotic resistance bacteria can pass through the food chain to people.

The FDA ban was imposed to “preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans”.

Today, several Australian newspapers reported that, despite being banned in the United States because of concern for human health, the use of cephalosporin is still allowed in to be used for livestock in Australia.

A spokesperson for the APVMA, which is Australia’s regulatory authority for agricultural and veterinary chemical products, told Australian Food News today that it should be made clear that the FDA ban applies only to certain uses of cephalosporin, and that it is not an outright ban as suggested by some media reports.

The APVMA spokesperson said, “The use of cephalosporin is under strict regulation in Australia. Given that Australian registration of cephalosporin antibiotics requires veterinariams to use these products based on an individual animal need, coupled with the strong self-regulatory approach taken by industry, there is not a direct parralel with the situation that required the FDA to take action it has. It is used under very strict controls and where vital to animal and herd health.

“We monitor international developments relating to the registration and use of agvet chemicals as part of our operating process and we are aware of the FDA ruling.”