Over 2 million people are sickened in the US by multidrug-resistant infections and over 23,000 die every year. One significant cause of drug-resistance emergence is the widespread use of antibiotics in farm animal production: in 2012, over 32 million pounds of antibiotics, or 68% of all antibiotics sold in the US, were administered to animals. Antibiotics are administered to humans only by prescription, but 97% of antibiotics used in food-producing animals were sold over the counter (OTC). This uncontrollable overuse breeds “superbugs”, microbes that resist all antibiotics.
In 2017, the FDA banned the widespread practice of OTC antibiotics. This withdrawal of antibiotics from animal production is a step in the right direction, but it poses a major threat to the industry in the case of a bacterial disease outbreak. Farmers now urgently need new antimicrobials to raise healthy livestock and to produce safe food.
GP is developing a line of antimicrobial probiotics that target pathogens in chickens. Probiotics are benign, safe-to-consume, live bacteria.