The Government Accountability Project (GAP) filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) on Wednesday, claiming that the group withheld data regrading the sale of antibiotics for use in food animals.
According to GAP:
“Drug companies are required to report basic information about antibiotic sales to the FDA under the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). Such information includes how much of each drug is sold; whether the drugs are formulated for use in feed, water, or by injection; and the animals for which each drug is approved. FDA publicly releases a limited summary of ADUFA data each year, but withholds almost all of what companies report.”
After GAP requested information about antibiotic sales under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the group claims the FDA failed to properly respond with requested data. GAP officials specifically sought information regarding the amount of antibiotics sold for use in food animals since 2009. GAP requested that information be provided by animal type and dosage information.
According to a press release:
“The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), an academic research center based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, approached GAP for help obtaining these data almost two years ago. GAP made the request in February 2011, and has exhausted all other steps to get the information, short of litigation. In the end, the agency denied GAP’s request, claiming that the requested data is “confidential commercial information.””
FDA officials claim that some of the information requested would have contained “confidential commercial information” and that such requests often do not “hold up” in court.
The Government Accountability Project notes that more than 30 million pounds of antibiotics are sold every year in the United States for use in food animals, an amount equal to 80 percent of the overall antibiotic sales market in the US.
An overuse of antibiotics argues the group could lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are difficult to treat and which can ultimately lead to death in both animals and humans.
GAP would like proper antibiotic sales data to be offered so agencies can better study the effects of rampant antibiotic use in food animals. According to GAP Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt:
“How can we truly know the extent to which these drugs are causing harm if we can’t even access information?… The agency’s job is to protect the public’s health, not industry secrets.”
The Food and Drug Administration has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. You can read the full filing here.