President Barack Obama’s budget proposes doubling the federal budget to combat antibiotic resistance. This is exciting, given that experts warn that antibiotics are rapidly losing their effectiveness, putting the health of millions at risk.
In addition to funding programs that will reduce the number of resistant infections that are contracted at hospitals, the budget increases funding for farmer education and research programs to reduce antibiotics in agriculture. This will help to tackle the overuse of antibiotics on animal farms, which scientists point to as a major reason for the spread of superbugs resistant to antibiotics.
This month, the administration is due to issue a five-year plan to tackle antibiotic resistance. To fully confront the problem, they should use this as an opportunity to issue a policy that requires farms to stop routinely administering these drugs to healthy animals. To date, our federal agencies have failed to issue such a requirement, asking only for voluntary action that will — at best — address only a small part of this overuse.
More than 10,000 medical professionals have signed a letter to President Obama asking for such action. The president should heed this call and ensure that antibiotics are protected for generations to come.
Illinois Public Interest Research Group
From the Feb. 4-10, 2015, issue