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In a 7-4 vote, the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee gave the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act a favorable report. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for debate. Supporting the bill in Committee were Senators Carter Conway, Pinsky, Nathan-Pulliam, Kagan, Robinson, Young, and Zucker.

Big pharmaceutical companies have been lobbying against the bill and are expected to advocate for Senators to support weakening amendments on the floor. You can send a message to your Senator encouraging them to support the bill here.

The Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017, sponsored by Senatore Paul Pinsky and Senatore Nathan-Pulliam (Senate Bill 422) and Delegate Shane Robinson and Delegate Clarence Lam (House Bill 602) restricts the use of human antibiotics for use on animals that are not sick for routine prophylaxis. It allows for continued use when medically necessary, to treat sick animals, or when conducting surgery.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) very conservatively estimates the number of antibiotic resistant infections in the United States at around 2 million cases a year. Of those, 23,000 people will die as a result of the resistant infection. The annual cost in the United States of such infections exceeds $55 billion per year. Bacteria resistant to antibiotics are increasing, which means infections from common injuries and surgeries are increasingly risky and can be life threatening. Recently, a Nevada woman died of a hip infection resistant to all existing antibiotics.

Any use of antibiotics causes antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop. In the United States, up to 70 percent of human use antibiotics are sold for use on farms.

The bill is supported by a wide range of groups including many public health associations, including: The Maryland Nurses Association, the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians, the Maryland Pharmacy Coalition, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Maryland Hospital Association, Nurse Practitioners Association of Maryland, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine – Center for Integrative Medicine.

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