Keep Antibiotics Effective Act Clears Committee

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee voted 7-4 today in support of the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act.

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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Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.

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