HealthDay News) — A plan is currently underway to phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in  animals raised for food production, the FDA has announced.

The agency has put into place a strategy to phase out the use of antibiotics currently used in the feed and water of food animals to boost growth due to concerns about the development of antimicrobial resistance.

The FDA is calling on animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved use conditions on the labels of these products. Furthermore, the plan will implement changes to the current over-the-counter status to enable veterinary oversight of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses.

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After making these changes, medically important antimicrobial drugs will no longer be permitted for use in production purposes, and veterinary oversight will be required for their use to treat, control and prevent disease in animals.

Animal pharmaceutical companies are being asked to notify the agency of their intent to comply with the strategy within three months, and will have a three-year transition process.

“Implementing this strategy is an important step forward in addressing antimicrobial resistance,” Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “The FDA is leveraging the cooperation of the pharmaceutical industry to voluntarily make these changes because we believe this approach is the fastest way to achieve our goal.”

In June 2010, the agency started drafting guidance urging farmers and veterinarians to reduce antibiotic use to boost growth in food-producing animals, and in April 2012 the FDA banned the use of cephalosporin antibiotics in food-producing animals, including cattle, pigs (swine), chickens and turkeys.

The antibiotic guidelines for animal pharmaceutical companies is now in final form.The FDA also has issued a proposed rule to update the existing regulations relating to Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) drugs, which is open for public comment for 90 days starting on Dec. 12, 2013.

To electronically submit comments on the proposed VFD rule, go to and insert docket FDA-2010-N-0155. Send written comments to the Division of Dockets Management, Food and Drug Administration, Room 1061, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852.