Press Releases

Feinstein: Preserve Effectiveness of Medically Important Antibiotics

Plan to phase out overuse of antibiotics that are creating drug-resistant bacteria strains

Washington – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics used to treat human and animal bacterial diseases.

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) addresses the rampant overuse of antibiotics in agriculture that creates drug-resistant bacteria, an increasing threat to human beings.

The widespread practice of using antibiotics to promote livestock growth and compensate for unsanitary, crowded conditions has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and other pathogens, rendering many powerful drugs ineffective.

“The effectiveness of antibiotics for humans is jeopardized when they are used to fatten healthy pigs or speed the growth of chickens,” said Senator Feinstein.  “This is a basic food safety initiative that would phase out the misuse of these drugs so that food in supermarkets across America will not spread strains of drug-resistant bacteria.”

In 2010, Senator Feinstein was contacted by the Don family of Ramona, California.  Their son, Carlos, a bright and athletic 12-year old, became extremely ill with an infection while at summer camp.  He was given a dose of antibiotics at an Urgent Care Center and told the bug would be gone in a few days.

The next day Carlos was rushed back to the hospital in an ambulance.  It took doctors 48 hours to find a medication that could kill the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, that had infected his body.  By that time, Carlos’ lungs, kidneys, liver, intestine and heart had failed.  With only some brain activity left, Carlos lost his life because the antibiotics that hospitals have relied on for 80 years no longer worked. 

“No parent should ever undergo the heartbreak and the tragedy that the Don’s went through,” continued Feinstein.  “My bill makes important changes to the use of antibiotics and ensures that operations on a farm do not negatively impact the health and well being of families across the nation.”

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act will: 

  • Phase out the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in livestock;
  • Require new applications for animal antibiotics to demonstrate the use of the antibiotic will not endanger public health;
  • Not restrict the use of antibiotics to treat sick livestock or to treat pets.

PAMTA will limit the agricultural use of seven types of antibiotics that have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration as critically important in human medicine to ensure that antibiotic-resistance is not inadvertently accelerated.

Two million Americans acquire a bacterial infection during a hospital stay annually.  Seventy percent of these infections will be resistant to antibiotics.  As a result, every day 38 patients in hospitals die of these infections.

Companion legislation, H.R. 965, has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).