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(Annapolis, Md) Tonight, in separate actions, the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates each voted to pass an amended version of the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act (SB422/HB602). The legislation, sponsored by Senators Paul Pinsky (District 22) and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (District 44) and Delegate Shane Robinson (District 39), would make Maryland the second state in the nation to prohibit routine antibiotic use in livestock. California passed similar legislation restricting use on farm animals in 2015.
"This is a big win for everyone who is concerned about the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance," said Mae Wu, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Maryland has shown that it takes this threat seriously and wants to protect its residents."
The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan 35 - 12 vote, and the House of Delegates vote was 139 - 1. The versions of the legislation are identical, so advocates expect the bill to make it to the Governor's desk.
The legislation has broad support among public health officials concerned about the threat of antibiotic resistance. In the United States, up to 70 percent of human use antibiotics are sold for use on animals. Advocates say the bill will protect human health by ending inappropriate and unnecessary use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. The bill bans the routine use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals that are not sick, but allows the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals and control disease outbreaks.
While pleased that Maryland has taken action on antibiotics, advocates expressed disappointment that an amendment weakened the data reporting provisions of the bill and virtually eliminated meaningful data collection. Nonetheless, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working applauded passage of the bill.
"The overwhelming bi-partisan support for the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act demonstrates that safeguarding antibiotics is not just a trend." said Maryland Emily Scarr, director of Maryland PIRG. "We hope more states, retailers, and producers will now become inspired to protect public health by taking action to restrict use of antibiotics on farms."
"Antibiotics are our last line of defense against life threatening infections," said Robyn Gilden, a registered nurse and associate professor at University of Maryland School of Nursing. "As a nurse, I am very concerned about the creation of antibiotic-resistant 'superbugs' and that's why we need the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act."
The bill is supported by a wide range of groups including many healthcare organizations, such as: The Maryland Nurses Association, the Maryland Hospital Association, the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians, the Maryland Pharmacy Coalition, the Nurse Practitioners Association of Maryland, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, and the Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working is made up of healthcare, public health, environmental, consumer, and animal welfare organizations, individuals, and companies working together to stop the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. https://mdkeepabxworking.wordpress.com
Some of the Groups Supporting the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act
Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
College of Notre Dame of Maryland, School of Pharmacy
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
Maryland Chapter of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
Maryland Chapters for the Academy of Pediatrics
Maryland Environmental Health Network
Maryland Nurses Association
Maryland Public Health Association
Maryland State Conference NAACP
Maryland Pharmaceutical Society
Maryland Pharmacists Association
Maryland Society of Health System Pharmacists
Maryland Votes For Animals
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy Student Government Association
Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland
Real Food for Kids - Montgomery
Sierra Club Maryland
University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Pharmacy
University of Maryland Baltimore School of Pharmacy Student Government Association
University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Pharmacy Student Government Association
Woman's Democratic Club of Montgomery County
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