If you are like most people, you or someone in your family has been prescribed antibiotics to treat an illness. Maybe it was a simple ear infection, or strep throat. Or maybe it was something potentially life-threatening, like pneumonia or a post-surgery infection.
When we get an infectious illness, we assume the antibiotics our doctors prescribe will make us better. But what if they didn’t? Medical experts, including from the World Health Organization, are warning that if we don’t stop the overuse of antibiotics, they could stop working. Antibiotic resistant infections already make two million people sick and claim the lives of at least 23,000 Americans each year. Some experts are predicting that by 2050, these infections could kill more people worldwide than cancer kills today. We need to take immediate and decisive action to stop the overuse of antibiotics.
While overprescription in healthcare is a problem, antibiotics are vastly misused and overused on factory farms. We’re allowing approximately 70 percent of human antibiotics in the United States to be sold for use in livestock and poultry operations. Why do they do it? Crowded and unsanitary conditions on factory farms often put animals’ health at risk, and giving animals a regular dose of antibiotics makes them gain weight faster.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate how antibiotics should be used. But so far their proposed rules have been weak, and don’t do nearly enough to curb overuse, especially in agriculture. We continue to advocate for strong federal action, but the current administration and Congress are unlikely to act any time soon, and we’re not waiting around until they do.
Change In The States
Without leadership from Washington D.C. we need to make change happen in the states. Already, California and Maryland have passed laws banning the routine use of medically important antibiotics on farms that operate in those states. We’re running a coordinated campaign in seven more states across the country, including Washington, Massachusetts, Illinois and Texas. Through our statewide efforts we’ll make a huge impact on the amount of antibiotics used in agriculture, and put increased pressure on federal decision makers to protect public health. Learn more about our Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics campaign.
We’ve helped convince McDonald’s, Subway, KFC and others to eliminate antibiotics from their chicken supply chains. The result? We estimate that we’re nearing a tipping point, where about half of the country’s chicken will be raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics. Now we’re turning our attention to beef and pork, and telling McDonald’s it’s time to Hold The Antibiotics. Learn more about our market based campaigns, and our plans to get McDonald’s to Hold The Antibiotics.
Organizing Medical Professionals
Not surprisingly, some companies are resisting the changes we need. Some like Sanderson farms are actively trying to confuse consumers by running misleading ads. Others are sending industry lobbyists to persuade state and local decision-makers that these changes will be too hard, or will cost too much. That’s why we created the Health Professional Action Network, group of 40,000 medical and health professionals who are on the front lines of this problem. They are trained and ready to speak out in the media, city halls and state capitols.
Public Health Advocate Dev Gowda flanked by Dr. Sameer Patel, Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and a member of our Health Professionals Action Network.
Research & Advocacy That Gets Results
Our researchers, lawyers, advocates and organizers are all committed to protecting public health. We’re currently coordinating efforts in 25 states, Washington D.C., and on 10 college campuses to run our campaigns, and build the support it will take to Save Our Antibiotics. We work with people from all political perspectives and all walks of life, and we’ve already signed on over 40,000 medical professionals, and generated more than 300,000 public comments, from 20 different states in support of our campaigns.
What Happens Next
The choice is clear, we shouldn’t tolerate the misuse and overuse of our precious life-saving medicines, just so we can make burgers a little cheaper, or chickens a little fatter. We can’t risk the health of our children or a future in which common infections which were easily treatable are once again life-threatening. In the absence of national leadership, it’s up to us to convince our colleges, communities, states and others to get involved. Will you join us?
Join The Campaign
None of us want to face a world in which life-saving antibiotics no longer work. You can help. Sign up for updates and opportunites to take action.
More than half of the top 25 restaurant chains (14 to be exact) in the U.S. have taken some action to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in their meat supply chains, up from 9 just one year ago. READ BLOG POST
The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act (SB422/HB602) has gone into law, making Maryland the second state in the country after California to meaningfully address the widespread misuse of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. READ NEWS RELEASE.