The “Keep Antibiotics Effective Act” is before Senate and House Committees this week.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) very conservatively estimates the number of antibiotic resistant infections in the United States at around 2 million cases a year. Of those, 23,000 people will die as a result of the resistant infection. The annual cost in the United States of such infections exceeds $55 billion per year. Bacteria resistant to antibiotics are increasing, which means infections from common injuries and surgeries are increasingly risky and can be life threatening. Recently, a Nevada woman died of a hip infection resistant to all existing antibiotics.
One of the reasons for this resistance is the ongoing, low-dose use of antibiotics in the agriculture sector, where up to 70 percent of human antibiotics are sold for use in animals.
Legislation in the Maryland General Assembly this year aims to limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals that are not sick. The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017, sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky and Sen. Nathan-Pulliam (Senate Bill 422) and Del. Shane Robinson (House Bill 602) would allow the use of antibiotics in farm animals that are sick, having a medical procedure, or for disease control, but prevents the routine, low dose usage. Low dose use is most likely to breed resistance.
A hearing took place on Tuesday, Feb. 14 in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. The House hearing in the Environment and Transportation Committee is scheduled for Feb. 15 at 1 p.m.
The bill is supported by a wide range of groups including many public health associations, including: The Maryland Nurses Association, the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians, the Maryland Pharmacy Coalition, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Maryland Hospital Association, Nurse Practitioners Association of Maryland, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine – Center for Integrative Medicine.
“Antibiotic resistance threatens the routine use of many medical procedures we now take for granted,” said Dr. Pat McLaine, a registered nurse and member of the Maryland Nurses Association. “If we don’t act quickly, we will lose the ability to treat infections, conduct surgery and treat illnesses like cancer.”
“I’ve treated children with antibiotic resistant infections that require herculean efforts to fight – and not always successfully,” said pediatrician Dr. Amol Purandare. “As healthcare providers we are working to be stewards and make smart choices. However, this is just not enough, we need agriculture to do its part in reducing antibiotic resistance. That’s why I support the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act.”
“As a patriot, a proud Marylander, and a humble farmer I recognize it is my duty to contribute to the health of my eaters to protect them from sickness through the food I create,” said Alex Smith, of Purple Sol Farm. “The use of antibiotics for growth promotion and so called, “disease prevention,” contributes to the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria that directly compromise the health of our eaters. This is a cost we cannot afford should legislate against.”
Fact sheets with information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Pediatrics and others are available on the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working website: https://mdkeepabxworking.wordpress.com/press-kit/
GROUPS SUPPORTING THE KEEP ANTIBIOTICS EFFECTIVE ACT
• Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment
• Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
•College of Notre Dame of Maryland, School of Pharmacy
• Fair Farms
• Future Harvest
• Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
•Maryland Chapter of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists• • Maryland Environmental Health Network
• Maryland Nurses Association
• Maryland PIRG
• Maryland Public Health Association
• Maryland State Conference NAACP
• Maryland Pharmaceutical Society
• Maryland Pharmacists Association • Maryland Society of Health System Pharmacists
• Maryland Votes For Animals
• Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
• Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy Student Government Association
• Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland
• Real Food for Kids – Montgomery
• Sierra Club Maryland
• University of Maryland, School of Medicine – Center for Integrative Medicine
• University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Pharmacy
• University of Maryland Baltimore School of Pharmacy Student Government Association
• University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Pharmacy Student Government Association
• Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County