California legislation aims to promote responsible use of antibiotics in humans and animals.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California legislature passed two bills that would prohibit the use of antibiotics farm animals without a prescription and veterinary oversight. California Sen. Jerry Hill sponsored the bills.

Senate Bill 835 was approved by a 34-0 vote. The bill would allow antibiotics to be used in livestock only for medical reasons and with a prescription and veterinary oversight. The law applies to antibiotics used by humans, such as penicillin and tetracycline. The bill does not restrict drugs used solely for animals.

“The Food and Drug Administration says that there is no scientific reason why antibiotics should be used to promote growth in livestock,” Hill said. “Prohibiting their use as growth promoters and making sure there is veterinarian oversight are common sense measures to reduce antibiotic resistance.”

Senate Bill 1311, approved by a 37-0 vote, would require general acute care hospitals in California to establish antimicrobial stewardship programs to ensure that antibiotics are used on when necessary, the correct antibiotic is chosen and administered properly. The bill is aimed at promoting responsible use of antibiotics by humans.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 2 million people in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result.
“The CDC has sounded the alarm and California is responding,” Hill said. “With these first-in-the-nation bills, California is at the forefront of combatting antibiotic resistance.”

The bill is now headed for the state assembly for another vote. If approved, California will become the first state to ban the livestock industry from using antibiotics also used in humans.