'Antibiotics rules must be based on sound science', animal health experts warn

KNEEJERK political measures to reduce antimicrobial resistance in Europe and the UK could have a ‘severe’ impact on animal health, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warned.

The BVA call came ahead of yesterday’s (Sunday) European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

The Association has told vets they must use antimicrobials responsibly and be seen to use them responsibly or risk having restrictions imposed on their use by legislators using the precautionary principle.

BVA president Peter Jones said: “Any measures to tackle antimicrobial resistance must be based on sound science. At the moment we are resisting calls from parliamentarians and pressure groups in Europe and the UK to significantly restrict a veterinary surgeon’s right to prescribe and dispense medicines according to clinical and professional judgement.

“These calls do not reflect the available science. We know from the USA and Denmark that banning or restricting the use of certain antimicrobials in certain species has not reduced the incidence of resistance to certain organisms in humans. Banning the veterinary use of antimicrobials could have a severe impact on animal health and welfare without achieving the desired impact in humans.”

Mr Jones added scientists agreed human prescribing was more likely to have an impact on human medicine than veterinary use; but that responsible prescribing was essential in both sectors.

“We fully support measures to encourage responsible veterinary use, particularly of those classes of antimicrobial that are critical for human use such as fluoroquinolones and 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins,” said Mr Jones.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance said calls from the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance for the use of Fluoroquinolones in poultry to be banned, could have ‘negative outcomes’.

RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald said: “There is much debate in many scientific and regulatory circles on how to manage the risk of antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals and the concern that animal use of antimicrobials may have harmful effects on human treatment.  RUMA welcomes this debate and, in particular, the contribution from scientific studies which allow measured and effective risk management action to be taken.”

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