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AMR must be tackled

More pressure for international action to eliminate unnecessary use of antibiotics, both in human and veterinary medicine, and limit the risk of AMR, followed the recent WHO/OIE meeting.

Calls for more joint action to face the mounting challenges posed by the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) were made at the recent international meeting at The Hague, under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The declaration called for adoption of OIE intergovernmental standards for use of antibiotics for both human and veterinary medicines in the following areas:

  • good veterinary governance
  • prudent use of antimicrobials
  • data collection
  • safety of international trade.

A number of EU Member states, including Sweden and France, had made similar calls for joint action at EU level.

Prime Minister David Cameron supported the WHO/OIE initiative and announced a new independent review ‘to explore the economic issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance’ – including a plan to accelerate the development of new generations of antibiotics.

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The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) announced a new research programme, backed by eight government bodies and the Wellcome Trust, to tackle AMR ‘on all fronts’.

Best practice for responsible use of antibiotics in livestock here is enshrined in the RUMA Codes of Practice (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance ). A revision of all the Red Tractor Farm Standards will come into force in October. As outlined in a recent RT document 'What has changed', there will be a requirement for all pig producers to record all antibiotic medicines used on the farm, and the data must be reviewed on an annual basis.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee joined the calls for further action to end “unnecessary use antibiotics in healthcare and farming”. Their report (para 55) included acknowledgement of the Danish ‘centrally co-ordinated’ recording of all medicine prescription and detailed on-farm usage (VETSTAT), which was introduced in the year 2000.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration announced further controls on the ‘group treatment’ of pigs for intestinal or respiratory diseases, where administering antibiotics in feed or water treats a group of pigs. This means that ‘group’ ‘metaphylactic’ treatment may only take place after a formal laboratory analysis has confirmed presence of, for example, diarrhoea and pneumonia in the herd. This is yet another initiative within the overall Danish strategy to discourage unnecessary use of antibiotic medicines for livestock.