The American Veterinary Medical Association urged its members Aug. 17 to vote against the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), also known as HR 1549 and S 619.
The call is based on a scientific response AVMA released to Congress disputing several of the findings and recommendations made in a report released last year by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. The Pew Commission’s findings and recommendations are being used to advocate PAMTA.
In short, the act amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to deny an application for a new animal drug that is a critical antimicrobial animal drug unless the applicant demonstrates that there is a reasonably certainty of no harm to human health due to the development of antimicrobial resistance attributable to the nontherapeutic use of the drug.
“Critical antimicrobial animal drug” is defined as a drug intended for use in food-producing animals that contains specified antibiotics or other drugs used in humans to treat or prevent disease or infection caused by microorganisms.
The AVMA said the Pew Commission’s process for gaining technical expertise in the Pew technical reports was biased and did not incorporate the findings and suggestions of a significant number of participating academicians.
In a letter dated July 16 to Ron DeHaven, DVM, chief executive officer of the AVMA, the Pew Commission responded, “We would like to comment on the process the Commission used with respect to technical reports and academics since you termed our process ‘biased.’ The Commission sought eight, separate technical, peer-reviewed reports based on the process used by the National Academy of Sciences. The Commission sought a broad range of academic experts to write on the issues and solicited names from representatives of the industrial food animal industry. While the Commission approached academic experts recommended by the industry, the industry discouraged those same experts from participating in the Commission’s work.”
The AVMA took issue with two other key factors:
“Points in the Pew report that address antimicrobial resistance, the environment and animal welfare were determined to be the most pertinent to veterinary medicine. In these areas, the AVMA asserts that many of the Pew Commission’s sub-points have significant shortfalls and lack information as to how the Commission would execute a new plan or program.
“The Pew Commission’s recommendations for highly restrictive bans on antibiotic use, which are also being used to advocate for PAMTA, have not been proven beneficial to public health. When Denmark and the Netherlands made an attempt to implement less restrictive bans on antibiotics than those recommended by Pew, they found that even a small decrease in antibiotic use severely diminished animal health and welfare without significantly improving human health.”
In its response letter, the Pew Commission accused the AVMA of lacking leadership to push for changes in production practices to reduce the need for the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics and of being inappropriately influenced by the industry.
The Pew Commission concluded “that the present system of industrial farm animal production is not sustainable and presents an unacceptable level of risk to public health and damage to the environment, is harmful to the animals housed in the most restrictive confinement systems and deters long term economic activity in the communities in which the operations are located.”
The act has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Click here for PAMTA.
Click here for AVMA’s full response to the Pew Commission’s study.