After years of concern over the use of medically important antibiotics given to food-producing livestock, sales of these medicines fell 33 percent in the U.S. in 2017, according to a new report by the Food and Drug Administration.
Notably, the results are the first to include sales and distribution data that was gathered after these medicines were no longer allowed to be used for promoting growth in food-producing livestock and could only be obtained through a veterinarian. Bulking up the animals makes them better suited for increased production, but can also encourage unnecessary antibiotic use.
Although sales do not constitute usage, the data is closely watched over concerns that humans are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics that are given to livestock. In the U.S., antibiotic resistance has been blamed for some 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 70 percent of antibiotics used to treat Americans are also used in livestock, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.