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(article, Kim Carlson)
Everyone knows that antibiotics save lives. And by now, most of us also know that the overuse of antibiotics diminishes their effectiveness by encouraging strains of drug-resistant bacteria to evolve. So why did people who should know this best of all — the folks at the Food and Drug Administation — set to approve a strong, and perhaps unnecessary, antibiotic for cattle? Check out this recent Washington Post article, which suggests that the FDA may not be doing enough to protect this antibiotic's strength: bq. The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people. bq. The drug, called cefquinome, belongs to a class of highly potent antibiotics that are among medicine's last defenses against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals. bq. The American Medical Association and about a dozen other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals would probably speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotics, as has happened with other drugs. Those super-microbes could then spread to people. bq. Echoing those concerns, the FDA's advisory board last fall voted to reject the request by InterVet Inc. of Millsboro, Del., to market the drug for cattle. bq. Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring. That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh the threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs. The article goes on to describe the "guidance document" and the intransigence of some at the FDA. It's enough to make you want to scream. Which is exactly what Bonnie Powell, aka The Dairy Queen, proposes in her inspiring Ethicurean post on this topic. If you've got a minute this week, send an email or two, as Bonnie suggests. Scream loud. And then stay tuned as The Ethicurean tracks a supposed rebuttal from the FDA, which says it has not approved the drug. Of course, the Post_ never claimed it had, only that it was "set" to do so.