MPs discuss overuse of antibiotics in Parliament

ANIMAL health chiefs have criticised an early day motion (EDM) in the House of Commons on the overuse of antibiotics.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) said the EDM ‘repeats and relies on some of the myths on the use of antibiotics in agriculture and the impact this has on antibiotic resistance in humans’.

RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald said he was concerned simplistic numerical targets of reduced use which were still being used, could encourage irresponsible use, for example reduced dosage or time of treatment, which would increase the risk of resistance, he said.

The EDM stated: “This House recognises that the overuse of antibiotics in intensive farming adds to the serious public health threat from antibiotic resistance and the rise of superbugs and welcomes further calls on the Government to take steps to ensure that the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics on UK farms is phased out and that specific controls are introduced on the use in livestock of antibiotics that are critically important in human medicine.”

RUMA said that while it agreed antibiotics must not be overused, prevention was better than cure and cautioned against proposals to ban any preventive treatment.

Mr FitzGerald added: “Antibiotics are important for maintaining the health of both humans and animals and it is important that all parties should work together to ensure that antibiotics remain an effective tool in the treatment of humans and animals so that when they need to be used they can be.

“There is, however, scientific consensus that use of antimicrobials in human medicine rather than antibiotic use in the veterinary sector is the driving force for antibiotic resistant human infections.”

RUMA said it was keen to meet with the MPs sponsoring the EDM to discuss their concerns about how antibiotics are used in animals.

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