Vets welcome Brussels antimicrobial resistance plan

VETS have welcomed plans by the European Commission to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human and animal medicine.

Ahead of European Antimicrobial Awareness Day on Friday, the Commission today (Thursday, November 17), published a five-year action plan on AMR.

Highlighting the seriousness of the problem, the Commission said about 25,000 patients were dying each year in the EU from infections caused by drug resistant bacteria, adding €1.5 billion to healthcare costs.

The 12-point action plan reflects the growing belief that high usage of antibiotics in farming, primarily the pig, poultry and dairy sectors, is contributing significantly to the problem.

Pressure is building to tackle the problem. The European Parliament recently called for a ban on the prophylactic (pre-emptive) use of antibiotics for livestock to reduce the risk of resistance being transferred between animals and humans.

The 12-point Commission action plan promises to ‘strengthen EU law on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed’ and to bring in new recommendations for ‘prudent use’ of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine.

European Health Commissioner John Dalli said: “We need to take swift and determined action if we do not want to lose antimicrobial medicines as essential treatment against bacterial infections in both humans and animals.”

British Veterinary Association president Carl Padgett said there was ‘much to be applauded in this action plan’.

He said the BVA particularly support calls for more research, more responsible use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine, and the development of diagnostic tools to ‘quickly identify the right drug for the right bug’.

 “The use of antimicrobials in the treatment and control of animal diseases is essential and the BVA supports the strong messages in this plan. Any option for managing AMR must be firmly rooted in sound scientific assessment of the risk,” he said .

But he said the BVA was concerned the Commission only gave qualified support for the development of new medicines for animal use.

“Research into new antimicrobials should be supported in both human and veterinary medicine,” he said. 

National Beef Association assistant director Joanne Pugh said: “While the non-science based pressure from Europe is very worrying, the UK needs to address this issue as a matter of urgency.”

“Over-use of antibiotics will, over time, lead to resistant bugs becoming a problem in livestock. It is also expensive for farmers and not a great advert for consumers,” she said.

In a separate report published on Thursday, the newly formed Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics called for a 50 per cent cut in antibiotic use on EU farms.

The Commission Action Plan on Antimicrobial resistance sets out 12 actions to be implemented in close cooperation with member states. 

  • Improve awareness raising on the appropriate use of antimicrobials
  • Strengthen EU law on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed
  • Introduce recommendations for prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, including follow-up reports
  • Strengthen infection prevention and control in hospitals, clinics, etc.
  • Introduce legal tools to tighten prevention and control of infections in animals in the new EU Animal Health Law
  • Promote unprecedented collaboration to bring new antimicrobials to patients
  • Promote efforts to analyse the need for new antibiotics in veterinary medicine
  • Develop and/or strengthen multilateral and bilateral commitments for the prevention and control of AMR
  • Strengthen surveillance systems on AMR and antimicrobial consumption in human medicines
  • Strengthen surveillance systems on AMR and antimicrobial consumption in  animal medicines
  • Reinforce and co-ordinate research
  • Improve communication on AMR to the public

Readers' comments (1)

  • Will the vets look positively at homoeopathy as it has massive potential to become a part of the options for control of disease. Assuming we can get beyond the numsculls who trot out the "there is nothing in it" lines. Experience of many many farmers in this country and globally demonstrated the efficacy.

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