The first-in-the-nation legislation would codify
into law voluntary U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines,
issued late last year, aimed at stemming a surge in resistance to
certain antibiotics in humans, according to state Senator Jerry
Hill, the bill's author.
"The more antibiotics are used, the more resistance will develop,"
Hill, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This is an emergent public
Antibiotic resistance, which can cause humans to lose the ability to
fight infections, is thought to be caused partly by the prevalence
of the drugs in animal products. Some 70 percent of antibiotics used
by humans are also administered to farm animals, Hill said, citing
an independent analysis of FDA data.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said at least 2 million people are infected annually with
antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some 23,000 people die "as a direct
result of the infections," the report said.
Hill's legislation would require that antibiotics be sold with a
veterinarian prescription and that antibiotic manufacturers label
the drugs to show that they require prescriptions.
But the measure would apply only to antibiotics used by humans,
including tetracycline and penicillin, and would not restrict drugs
used solely for animals.
Current state law does not
restrict the use of antibiotics to produce bigger, fatter animals or
require veterinarian prescriptions for the drugs to be sold, Hill's
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"The livestock farmers and ranchers want to make sure antibiotics
remain effective," said Noelle Cremers, director of Natural
Resources and Commodities at the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Passed by a 34-1 senate vote, the measure will now head to the state
assembly for another round of votes. If approved, California would
be the first state to ban human-used antibiotics on farm animals
without a prescription, Hill's office said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Richard Chang)
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