Maryland Legislature Passes New Bill to Keep Antibiotics Effective

Maryland Legislature Passes New Bill to Keep Antibiotics Effective
Bill requires Department of Agriculture to put 2017 law into action, require reporting on antibiotic use on large farms

Annapolis, Md – Public health advocates are applauding the State Senate and House of
Delegates for passing bills (SB471/HB652) to ensure that Maryland is
restricting antibiotic use on farm animals that are not sick and collecting
important data regarding antibiotic use on farms.

The bills were introduced by Senators Paul Pinsky and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and
Delegate Sara Love to strengthen and codify regulations for the 2017 Keep
Antibiotics Effective Act, which aims to help curb the proliferation of antibiotic
resistant bacteria by eliminating routine use of antibiotics in livestock and
poultry that aren’t sick.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) enacted regulations for the law in
January, 2019, despite concerns from legislators, public health professionals,
and advocates that the regulations failed to address the routine use of
antibiotics on large farms and undermined the intent of the law.

“Antibiotics
are our last defense against life threatening infections,” said Dr. Pat McLaine, a registered nurse and member of the Maryland Nurses Association. “We must protect our precious antibiotics for times when they are needed most: sickness and surgery”

Public health, labor, business, and environmental organization are applauding passage
of the bill including: the Maryland Public Health Association, Maryland Sierra
Club, Maryland Nurses Association, SEIU 1199 United Health Care Workers,
Elevation Burger, the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists, Fair Farms,
Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Maryland Conservation Council, Maryland Votes for
Animals, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Maryland PIRG, and Clean
Water Action.

The bill makes the following expansion of the law to address definitions in the
regulations enacted by MDA and to help ensure proper implementation:

    1. Adds new definitions and clarifies definitions for
           “Administered in a regular pattern,” “Control of the spread of disease or
           infection,” “Elevated risk,” “Prophylaxis,” and “Treat a disease or
           infection.”
  • Adds a technical fix to exempt dairy farms with herd
    size of fewer than 300, to be in line with the small farm exemptions for
    poultry, pork and beef.

 

  • Adds a requirement
    for veterinarians to report the use of medically important antibiotics on
    a yearly basis to ensure compliance with the law and track progress.

 

 

Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr explained, “Without
antibiotics, cancer treatments and routine surgeries would become too dangerous
to perform because of risk of infection. Protecting antibiotics is something
everyone can get behind and we hope Governor Larry Hogan will sign this
critical bill”

“To keep our miracle drugs working when people and animals need them, we have to
stop squandering them on livestock that are not sick,” said Mae Wu, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC)
. “This bill will help make Maryland a leader in the

fight against the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections.”

Before
antibiotics, infections were the leading cause of death in America. But as
these drugs increasingly become less effective, drug resistant infections are
now the third-leading cause of death in this country – killing up to 162,000
people and sickening at least 2 million people every year. The annual estimated
cost in the United States of such infections exceeds $55 billion per year.

Ending
the routine use of antibiotics in agriculture has been identified by the World
Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other leading health
groups as a key strategy to fight the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance.

In the United States, approximately two thirds of antibiotics are sold for use on
livestock and poultry. Much of it is used not to treat sick animals but rather to compensate for a
poor diet and cramped, unhygienic living conditions. This routine use of
antibiotics accelerates the development of drug-resistant bacteria which can
travel off of farms and into our communities through human-to-animal contact,
contaminated food, insects, and through environmental factors like water
run-off, dirt and airborne dust.

###

The Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working is made up of healthcare, public health, environmental, consumer, and animal welfare organizations, individuals, and companies working together to stop the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture.

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