The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) of 2009 is currently in the committee stage in the House. Mike Apley, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVCP, KansasStateUniversity, answers three questions on the significance of PAMTA to the livestock industry.

Bovine Veterinarian: What will be the repercussions of the PAMTA if passed?

Mike Apley: In its current form, the only way a "nontherapeutic" use could remain labeled would be to pass an FDA review within a two-year period after the bill becomes law. Whether this would be some form of a Guidance 152  review or a new type of review, is not defined in the bill.

The reality is that it would probably take most of the two-year period to agree on the review method  and also to agree on the definition of "reasonable certainty of no harm".   I am concerned that the bill’s proponents feel that zero risk is the target, which is unobtainable.

BV: How does the bill define "nontherapeutic"?

MA: The use of a critical antimicrobial animal drug "as a feed or water additive for an animal in the absence of any clinical sign of disease in the animal for growth promotion, feed efficiency, weight gain, routine disease prevention, or other routine purpose".  The bill does not address injectable use of antibiotics, including injectable use for control of bovine respiratory disease. The bill does not attempt to remove all uses of antibiotics in food animals. 

BV: How does the bill define "critically important drugs"?

MA: The bill defines "any kind of penicillin, macrolide, tetracycline, lincosamide, streptogramin, aminoglycoside, or sulfonamide; or any other drug that is used in humans or intended for use in humans to treat or prevent disease or infection caused by microorganisms." Note that ionophores are not mentioned in the bill.

In the beef industry, our uses of the tetracyclines and tylosin would be the highest profile. The FDACenter for Veterinary Medicine has conducted a risk assessment on the use of streptogramins (virginiamycin, V-Max(R) in cattle) which has been left open for further information as the current information did not establish a risk to human health from the use of virginiamycin in food animals.   

To find out more about PAMTA and the AVMA's position on it, click here.