New data released yesterday by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that the amount of medically important antibiotics sold and distributed for use in food-producing animals rose by 9% between 2017 and 2018, after a 3-year decline.

Overall, the FDA says, 2018 is the still the second-lowest sales year on record, and sales of medically important antibiotics for use in livestock are down 21% from 2009, the first year of sales data reporting, and 38% from the peak sales year of 2015.

The agency also notes that a rebound in sales is not a surprise after the 2017 implementation of new rules that banned the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and required veterinary oversight for use of antibiotics in water and feed.

Although sales and distribution figures do not reflect how the antibiotics are actually being used on farms, they are the best indicator currently available, and experts say the increase is still worrisome, because widespread use of these drugs—which are also used to treat human infections—in meat production is contributing to rising antibiotic resistance.

“I’m disheartened by the fact that we have an increase in antibiotic sales,” said veterinary and public health consultant Gail Hansen, DVM. “I’m concerned that we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Increases seen in pigs, cattle

CC0 Creative Commons Pixabay

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