Tuesday, February 26, WASHINGTON, DC— Today Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise M. Slaughter introduced legislation to provide better information on the amount and use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials given to animals raised for human consumption, H.R. 820, the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act. 

“The widespread use of antibiotics in animals is a vital public health issue,” said Rep. Waxman.  “We need to learn more about how these drugs are being used.  With this information, scientists will be able to better pinpoint the relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animals and the development of dangerous resistant bugs that can harm humans.  This knowledge will inform scientists and Congress and start us down the path to sensible regulation.”

“We are on the cusp of a monumental public health crisis in America:  the end of antibiotics as a tool for fighting disease,” said Rep. Slaughter, the only microbiologist serving in Congress. “Right now, 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are used not on humans but on food-animals, many of whom are already perfectly healthy; as a result, antibiotic-resistant bacteria now kill more Americans every year than HIV/AIDS.  We must bring more attention to this issue before one of the most important breakthroughs in medical science – the discovery of antibiotics – is rendered obsolete.”

The bill will require drug manufacturers to obtain and provide better information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how their antimicrobial drugs are used in the food-producing animals for which they are approved.  It will also improve the timing and quality of the data that FDA publicly releases.

Additionally, the DATA Act will require large-scale producers of poultry, swine, and livestock to submit data to FDA detailing the type and amount of antibiotics contained in the feed given to their animals.  The DATA Act requires FDA to coordinate with USDA to improve the collection of data on the use of antimicrobial drugs in or on food producing animals.

A short summary of the bill is available online here.  A section-by-section is available online here.