Dear Ms. Reichert,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your support for the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would work to end the routine over use of antibiotics on healthy animals and curb the growing threat of superbugs. I am deeply concerned about the misuse of antibiotics by industrial farms and will support this bill when it comes to the floor for a vote.
Medical experts have confirmed that the widespread over use of antibiotics in animals sourced for food has contributed to a dramatic rise in antibiotic-resistant infections in people. That is why I introduced the Antimicrobial Data Collection Act, which would improve reporting of antibiotic sales for food and animal production. The FDA should collect more data to better understand the relationship between anti-microbial use in animals and resistance in humans, and the degree of risk. Improving the safety of our nation’s food supply has been a priority of mine in the Senate, and I was proud to sponsor this legislation.
The FDA estimates that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used for food animal production. While antibiotics are prescribed in people for short-term disease treatment, these same critically important drugs are often fed to farm animals at low doses, often over their entire lives, creating ideal conditions for the breeding of new and dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This dosing practice increases the likelihood of antibiotic resistant bacteria being transmitted through our food, putting consumer safety at risk.
Antimicrobial resistance is an ever-growing problem within our nation’s health care system, and it is time to take action to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that antibiotic resistance in the United States alone costs an estimated $20 billion a year in excess health care costs, $35 million in other societal costs and more than 8 million additional days that people spend in the hospital.
Antibiotics are one of the greatest treasures of modern medicine, and I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to fight for critical policy that protects public health, maintains a safe food supply system, and preserves effective antimicrobial drugs for humans and animals that are truly ill.
Thank you again for writing to express your concerns, and I hope that you keep in touch with my office regarding future legislation and concerns you may have. For more information on this and other important issues, please visit my website at http://gillibrand.senate.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator