Veterinary antibiotics – fact not fiction

NOAH (National Office of Animal Health) would like to dispel the “myth and misunderstanding” surrounding regulation and use of antibiotics, following the publication in December 2015 of a Report on Antimicrobials in Agriculture, as part of the AMR Review chaired by Lord O’Neill.

“There appears to be confusion about current rules on antibiotic use in farming in the UK,” says NOAH’s Chief Executive Officer, Dawn Howard. “Whilst the issue of global antibiotic resistance is a real concern, the situation will not be helped by misinformation, especially when we are dealing with animal welfare,” she warns.

NOAH, which represents the animal medicine sector, is urging everyone involved to help ensure users of antibiotics are clear on the rules. “The reality is that no class of antibiotic has been banned for use, nor do we know of any plans to do so,” explains Dawn Howard. “In addition, there are no moves to ban in-feed medication for use in livestock. The UK has some of the strictest regulations on antibiotic use in the world, as well as a deep-rooted culture of responsible use: for example, the use of antibiotics as growth promoters was stopped right across the EU in 2006,” she says.

“We are not complacent. For example we support the need for improved data on antibiotic usage to be available for the authorities to allow better analysis of which antibiotics are being used, where and in what species. In the UK, the livestock species sector groups are already developing plans to meet this need,” she adds.

The European veterinary medicines regulations are currently under review. Proposals for new Veterinary Medicinal Products and Medicated Feed regulations were published by the European Commission in September 2014. NOAH understands that new laws will take effect ‘on the ground’ across all Member States in late 2018 or early 2019, although the exact timeline remains unclear and may alter slightly.

“NOAH is working alongside its European federation (IFAH-Europe), to ensure all decisions taken during the review are based on good science,” Dawn Howard says. “With regard to antibiotics, there are proposals that would enable regulators to take action to protect public health should they see fit. But it should be made clear that the new regulations will only strengthen powers they already have.

“Because this affects both human and animal health directly, all discussion on antibiotics must be well-informed. NOAH actively supports working together under ‘One Health’ and is providing scientific and technical expertise where needed,” Dawn Howard concludes.

NOAH has published a simple guide to the EU Regulatory review and impact on antibiotic use. It can be downloaded here: 2016-02 Reg Review Antibiotics

ENDS

5 February 2016

Notes for Editors

  1. For further information on NOAH contact Alison Glennon at NOAH, tel. +44 (0)20 8367 3131, or visit the NOAH website.

  2. The National Office of Animal Health represents the UK animal medicines industry: its aim is to promote the benefits of safe, effective, quality medicines for the health and welfare of all animals.

  3. ‘Antimicrobials In Agriculture And The Environment Reducing Unnecessary Use And Waste’ The Review On Antimicrobial Resistance Chaired By Jim O’Neill, December 2015 Antimicrobials in agriculture and the environment – Reducing unnecessary use and waste