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Monday, September 19, 2016


The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) delivered a letter signed by leaders in the American public health and medical communities to the U.S. Delegation of the United Nations today urging them to push for international action to stop the misuse of antibiotics on livestock and poultry. The letter is in anticipation of the UN General Assembly’s first ever high-level meeting on antibiotic resistance this week. “Global leaders have failed to act in a unified way to protect life-saving antibiotics. Now we find ourselves at the cliff’s edge—just a step away from a post-antibiotic era. It’s time to act,” said Dr. Lance Price, Director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. “We need a global agreement to protect medically important antibiotics from overuse and misuse in industrial farming and in human medicine.” The UN doesn’t convene high level meetings on health issues lightly, having done so only a handful of times in the past. Antibiotic resistance warrants the spotlight. A study conducted for the United Kingdom estimates that unless immediate action is taken, drug resistant infections could kill more people worldwide per year by 2050 than cancer does today. Although antibiotics are sometimes misused in human medicine, the widespread overuse of the drugs on livestock and poultry has also been connected to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In the United States, approximately 70% of medically important antibiotics sold are for use on livestock and poultry. The drugs are often given routinely to animals that aren’t sick to promote growth and prevent disease common in unsanitary conditions. This overuse can encourage the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can spread to people through contaminated food, human to animal contact, air born dust and water runoff. “These miracles of modern medicine are slipping through our fingers,” said Patrice Snow, U.S. PIRG Antibiotics Program Director. “In order to preserve antibiotics for the future, we need to stop overusing and misusing them on healthy farm animals.” more

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