Skip to Main Content

Amid fears of superbugs, the sale of medically important antibiotics given to food-producing livestock declined by less than 1% overall in the U.S. in 2021, a small change that prompted advocates to complain that not enough is being done to thwart antibiotic resistance.

In particular, the sale and distribution of tetracycline, which accounted for 65% of the medically important antibiotics, fell by only 1%, according to the latest annual report from the Food and Drug Administration. Meanwhile, the sale and distribution of macrolides, which represented 9% of overall domestic sales of such medicines, rose by 21%.


“My main takeaway is that we are not making progress on reducing antibiotic overuse,” said Steven Roach, who heads the safe and healthy food program at the Food Animal Concerns Trust, a nonprofit that seeks to limit antibiotic use in food-producing livestock. He noted there were increases in many types of antibiotics that the World Health Organization says not to use in food-producing livestock.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


Create a display name to comment

This name will appear with your comment

There was an error saving your display name. Please check and try again.