Legislature Sends Governor Two Bills by Senator Jerry Hill to Combat Antibiotic Resistance
If Signed by Governor, the Bills Will Place California at Forefront of Battle Against the Public Health Crisis that Kills 23,000 Each Year
SACRAMENTO – With unanimous support, the California Legislature today sent to the governor two first-in-the-nation bills by Senator Jerry Hill that will prohibit the use of antibiotics in farm animals as growth enhancers and will establish hospital programs to ensure responsible use of antibiotics in humans.
Hill introduced the legislation because the widespread use of antibiotics has increased resistance to infections. More than two million Americans each year, including 23,000 people who die, are infected with antibiotic resistant infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Antibiotic resistance is the CDC’s top public health threat of 2014.
Such resistance means bacterial infections can no longer be treated with antibiotics. Over a short period, bacteria can evolve to resist antibiotics that would otherwise threaten their existence.
“The CDC has sounded the alarm and California is responding,” said Hill, D-San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties. “With these first-in-the-nation bills, California is at the forefront of combatting antibiotic resistance.”
Hill’s Senate Bill 835, approved on a 33-0 vote by the Senate, would allow antibiotics to be sold for use in livestock only for medical reasons. For the first time, these antibiotics could be administered only with a prescription and under veterinary oversight. This is important because at least 70 percent of antibiotics are sold for use in the livestock and are often used to make livestock grow fatter.
“The Food and Drug Administration says that there is no scientific reason why antibiotics should be used to promote growth in livestock,” Hill said. “Prohibiting their use as growth promoters and making sure there is veterinarian oversight are common sense measures to reduce antibiotic resistance.”
Hill’s other bill, Senate Bill 1311, approved on a 33-0, would require that general acute care hospitals in California establish antimicrobial stewardship programs by July 1, 2015. Stewardship programs ensure that antibiotics are used only when necessary, that the right antibiotic is chosen, and that antibiotics are administered correctly.
While a large majority of antibiotics are sold for use in the livestock, the CDC reports that up to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed are not needed or are improperly prescribed. For example, antibiotics are sometimes prescribed when no infection is present or the wrong antibiotic may be given to treat a certain infection.
Just as improper use in livestock can contribute to the growth of antibiotic resistance, so too can improper antibiotic use in humans. The CDC estimates antibiotic resistant infections in humans result in at least $20 billion in direct health care costs and at least $35 billion in lost productivity.
For more information on antibiotic resistance and its threat to the future of antibiotics, please see the CDC’s report on Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf.