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18 November 2011

Evolution not revolution is the future approach for antimicrobial use in animals

The European Commission has recommended a holistic approach to the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance development in its Communication to the European parliament and the Council, published on 17 November. It emphasised the importance of responsible use of antimicrobials by all.

This is the approach set out by RUMA (the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) in its species specific-sets of guidelines on good practice for antimicrobial use which promote health in all its aspects. Bio-security, good housing, good nutrition and herd health plans, coupled with appropriate vaccine use is all part of the Responsible Use approach. But responsible use of antimicrobials remains a vital part of overall good practice.

“We must all recognise the risks to both animal and humans from antimicrobial resistance and work together to minimise them”, said RUMA chairman Peter Allen, speaking at an international conference on the Responsible Use of Antimicrobials in Animals in the Netherlands on 14 November. He added: “Change should come about by evolution rather than revolution, and regulation must be based on sound, scientific risk assessment and not on inappropriate application of the precautionary principle.”

“Like all animal medicines, antimicrobials should be used as little as possible but as much as necessary. Part of this imperative is to try to ensure that by tackling resistance we can retain the efficacy of available antimicrobials,” he said.

At the event RUMA, formed in 1998 to focus cooperation between the many diverse elements of the ‘farm to fork’ process in promoting best practice in the use of antimicrobials, was acknowledged as paving the way for other joined up activity, as exemplified by EPRUMA, the European Platform for Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals. RUMA was encouraged by the summing from the Chairs at the end of the conference for acceptance of their proposal for all member states to emulate the initiative of the UK by producing detailed species specific guidelines for use by vets and farmers. More….. “We need to continue to evolve to ensure we can feed the rapidly growing world population - after all, farmers feed cities. We cannot do this without a full range of antimicrobials to be available for veterinary surgeons to prescribe to protect our livestock from bacterial infection,” Mr Allen said.

Ends

Notes for editors

1. For further information contact RUMA secretary John FitzGerald on 01747 860867 or see the RUMA website www.ruma.org.uk

2. A copy of Peter Allen’s presentation at the meeting International Conference on the Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Animals – an exchange of views on the path forward, held 14-16 November 2011 at Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands, is available here.

3. The abstract of Peter Allen’s paper is available here.

4. The European Commission’s report is available here http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/docs/communication_amr_2011_748_en.pdf