Antibiotic Use in Livestock


To identify trends in the use of antibiotics in livestock and any general trends regarding antibiotics in food to determine ways that Polyflex can improve their business in this area.

Early Findings

Antibiotic Use in Livestock

  • Data from the FDA for 2018 suggested there had been a significant drop in the use of antibiotics in livestock. Domestic sales and distribution of antibiotics for livestock fell 33% on 2016 figures and 43% from 2015 when sales peaked. The figures are a reflection only of sales and distribution, not whether the medicines were actually used in livestock.
  • Guidance for Industry #213 was introduced in 2017. It means that antibiotics that are important human medicines can no longer be used to promote growth in livestock or any other animal for human consumption.
  • This rule also meant that 95% of the antibiotics used for therapeutic reasons in animals can no longer be brought over the counter. They now require veterinary oversight.
  • The largest decline in use was seen in the chicken industry where antibiotic use fell 47%.
  • Medically important antibiotics for human medicine account for 51% of the antibiotics sold for food use. The other 49% are not used in human medicines.
  • Livestock antibiotic use is contributing to antibiotic resistance in humans. There is an increasing trend in the livestock industry to develop alternatives to antibiotics that can be used in food animal production. The difficulty is these products must compete with other priorities for the research dollar. This means that progress has been slow.
  • Product development for animals is a complex and long process. The number of non generic drugs being developed for animal use has been trending down since 1971.
  • There is an increasing trend to develop appropriate therapeutic drugs for companion animals, which is impacting negatively on the development of drugs for the livestock industry.
  • There is an established list of benefits and risks when using antibiotics used for humans in animals produced for food. The primary risk is that of antibiotic resistance and the impact this could have on the human population.


  • There is a considerable amount of information available regarding the use of antibiotic use in animals used for food. There is a minimal amount of information available on the current trends, which seem to be limited to the decline in use, difficulty obtaining funding for new drugs, and the impact development of medicines for companion animals is having on research. Multiple articles discussed the trends, but for the large part, most of the information is repetitive. It does not appear spending additional time researching this topic will result in the identification of any significant additional trends.
  • We suggest a change in direction as our research indicates there is a considerable amount of information available that may be relevant to the goals.

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