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Slaughter blasts FDA appeal of antibiotics ruling

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., today called the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to appeal a federal court ruling that it must act to limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals “a dereliction of duty.”

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversees the FDA, and FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine Director Bernadette Dunham, filed the appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on May 21.

The case was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the ruling was issued March 22.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the FDA’s decision to appeal the March ruling,” said Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress.

“I suppose it’s not much of a surprise,” Slaughter said. “They’ve buried their heads in the sand and ignored the threat of antibiotic resistance for well over 30 years. But avoiding this problem won’t make it go away. In fact, it only increases the threat to our public health.”

“Today, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans than AIDS,” she said. “The FDA is tasked with protecting the health and well-being of the American people. So, as far as I’m concerned, FDA’s decision to appeal the March ruling is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.”

Slaughter is the author of legislation titled The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), designed to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease. She said the legislation would prevent the overuse of seven classes of antibiotics and has been endorsed by over 350 organizations.