F.D.A. seeks to curb certain uses of cephalosporin

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has issued an order prohibiting certain uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys, effective April 5, 2012.

“We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner of foods at the F.D.A.

According to the F.D.A., cephalosporins commonly are used in humans to treat pneumonia as well as to treat skin and soft tissue infections. Additionally, they are used to treat pelvic inflammatory disease, diabetic foot infections and urinary trac infections.

By prohibiting certain uses of cephalosporins in food-producing animals, the F.D.A. said it aims to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans.

“Prohibiting these uses is intended to reduce the risk of cephalosporin resistance in certain bacterial pathogens,” the F.D.A. said.

In its order the F.D.A. is prohibiting what it calls “extralabel” uses, including use of cephalosporin drugs at unapproved dose levels, frequencies, durations, or routes of administration; use of cephalosporin drugs in cattle, swine, chickens or turkeys that are not approved for use in that species; and use of cephalosporin drugs for disease prevention.

The F.D.A. issued a similar order in 2008 that had no exceptions, but revoked the order prior to implementation. The new rule includes several exceptions, including no limit on the use of cephapirin. The new rule also states veterinarians still will be able to use or prescribe cephalosporins for limited extralabel use in cattle, swine, chickens or turkeys as long as they follow the dose, frequency, duration and route of administration on the label, and veterinarians will be able to use or prescribe cephalosporins for extralabel uses in minor species of food-producing animals such as ducks or rabbits.

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