Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

RUMA’s response to the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance’s Open Letter of 7th December 2011

RUMA has sent the following response to the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance’s open letter:

“RUMA is an alliance of organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process which aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines on farm. The other recipients of your open letter are RUMA members and will not be replying separately.

“RUMA is grateful to the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance for their open letter clarifying their position in relation to the use of antibiotics in food producing animals. This seems remarkably similar to RUMA’s position. Let us be clear, RUMA acknowledges and accepts that the use of antibiotics in food producing animals can select for the development of resistant strains of bacteria which could lead to the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria in animals. This is why RUMA was established to provide guidance to farmers and vets on the responsible use of antibiotics in order to minimise this risk.

“The RUMA Guidelines recognise that medicines, including antibiotics, need to be used when necessary on farm in order to maintain the health and welfare of livestock. Animals are vulnerable to disease, whatever the system of production. While RUMA members acknowledge that some groups would prefer to see different management methods used in food production, RUMA feels that this should not get linked to a debate about using antibiotics, which are important tools, alongside good standards of husbandry, to protect the health and welfare of the animals. RUMA believes it is important for all farmers (and their vets) to have clear guidance on how to use antibiotics and other medicines responsibly and in conjunction with high standards of animal husbandry.

“The RUMA Guidelines do this with individual species versions targeted to farmers and vets. The Guidelines stress that medicines should not be used as a substitute for good husbandry practices that help to maintain animal health and prevent disease e.g. good ventilation, access to clean water, biosecurity etc. When a medicine is used the Guidelines provide advice to farmers and vets on how this can be done responsibly. This is embodied in RUMA’s view that medicines should be used as little as possible and as much as necessary.

“RUMA’s comments on the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance Report were designed to introduce some proportionality into the one-sided approach adopted in the Report. Whilst the use of antibiotics in animals can and has led to the transfer of antibiotic resistance to humans, it is widely recognised that by far the main cause of antibiotic resistance in humans is the use of antibiotics in humans. The risks are well known and it is important for those involved in the use of antibiotics in both people and animals to work together to minimise them. Antibiotic resistance must be managed wherever it is a risk; as a result of antibiotic use on farms, amongst our companion animals or the much greater risk from use within the human population. RUMA very much hopes that the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance will adopt this collaborative approach rather than just focussing on one comparatively small element of the debate in an apparent attempt to promote their preference for extensive livestock production. “

Ends

Notes for editors 1. RUMA is an alliance of organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process which aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines on farm. For further information contact RUMA secretary John FitzGerald (rumasec@btinternet.com).

2. RUMA’s comments on the Save Our Antibiotics Alliance’s Report “Case Study of a Health Crisis” can be found here.

RUMA Business / Marketing Plan 2011/12

Introduction

    1. RUMA is an alliance of animal health industry groups (see annex A for current membership and RUMA officers) with the aim of promoting a co- ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines.

How

    1. RUMA operates by providing best practice advice on the use of medicine to farmers and veterinary surgeons by publishing guidelines aimed at each of these groups and providing advice/comment on specific issues on its website ruma.org.uk.

RUMA’s existing commitments

    1. It is important for RUMA to maintain a high profile amongst farmers and vets so that they can avail themselves of the advice on best practice use of medicines. This will continue to be done by
      • keeping the RUMA website up to date and modernising its performance.
      • updating and publishing the various guidelines by using internal RUMA expertise and good will where at all possible to reduce costs.
      • auditing the effect of the guidelines as far as that is possible.
      • populating the website with position statements, factsheets and all the sort of information users would expect of an organisation speaking for the industry.
      • members regularly referring to the work of RUMA where appropriate.
      • helping to educate veterinary surgeons, farmers and others involved in the responsible use of medicines.
      • RUMA’s officers attending meetings and writing articles to publicise RUMA’s work.

Future work programme

    1. The European Commission plans to announce proposals to amend the EU’s veterinary medicines legislation in 2012. Their key aims are to improve the availability of veterinary medicines and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. RUMA has been working for more than 10 years to ensure the responsible use of antimicrobials and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance and so fully supports the Commission’s aims. So, in addition to the routine work set out above, RUMA will need to take on extra work to seek to influence and prepare for the Commission’s announcement and to help the UK negotiators in their response to it. RUMA will
      • closely monitor EU discussions, proposals etc in relation to the antimicrobial issue.
      • work with EPRUMA to influence the Commission’s developing proposals.
      • brief/meet MEPs.
      • keep RUMA members up to date on developments via email and on the website.
      • possibly call special meetings of the Board/AMR group to assess action.
      • organise RUMA press briefings or participate in RUMA members’ press briefings.
      • meet with member organisations e.g. attendance at their conferences to let them know what RUMA is doing. These meetings would be more specific to the organisation in question than the general email/website circulation and would enable interaction with a wider group than those who attend RUMA meetings.
      • access specialist external veterinary/public health advice.

Budget

  1. RUMA is financed through fees paid by its members. These normally generate an annual income of some £16,000 which is used to meet the costs of drafting and issuing the guidelines, maintaining the website, holding meetings and general administration by the Secretary General.
  2. The additional costs of the extra work outlined above are estimated to be a total of £16,000 for
    • three visits (6 nights stay) to Brussels to meet EPRUMA and/or Commission officials and to attend any relevant conferences – £2,500.
    • briefing/meeting MEPs may be partly achieved under the first bullet but an allowance of £1,000 is needed to cover additional trips.
    • keep RUMA members up to date on developments via email and on the website. This is part of RUMA’s routine work and would be met from the normal annual income.
    • possibly call special meetings of the Board/AMR group to assess action – room hire/refreshments – up to £1,000.
    • organise or participate in RUMA members’ press briefings. This is part of RUMA’s routine work and would be met from the normal annual income.
    • arrange meetings with member organisations as necessary to let them know what RUMA is doing. These meetings would be more specific to the organisation in question than the general email/website circulation – £1,000 for travel, overnight stays.
    • access to specialist external veterinary/public health advice – £2,500. additional secretariat support preparing papers, liaising with UK and EU officials, EPRUMA and other advisers, arranging meetings etc – £8,000.
  3. The additional income is likely to be required for 2012/13 and RUMA will seek this from external sources e.g. Defra, the Commission etc. Alternatively, the additional funding could be achieved by doubling members’ fees for that year. The RUMA Board would be required to assess the need for additional income in subsequent years taking into account the proposals eventually made by the Commission and the need for RUMA to seek any changes to them.

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RUMA comment on the report: Case Study of a Health Crisis

RUMA believes the report Case Study of a Health Crisis by a coalition comprising Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain misses a great opportunity to help highlight the importance of both medical and veterinary practitioners working together to help preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials for both human and animal health.

RUMA acknowledges the increased risk of antimicrobial resistance developing from the irresponsible use of antibiotics in human and animal medicine and believes that antibiotics should be used as little as often and as much as necessary. It already produces guidelines for farmers and vets on the responsible use of antibiotics on farms.

The RUMA guidelines stress that antibiotics should not be used as a substitute for good husbandry practices whatever the farming system.

RUMA believes that these guidelines have helped to minimise the levels of antibiotic resistance found in the UK and hopes other countries will adopt similar guidelines for their farmers and vets.

The medical profession too needs to play its part and, for example, learn to resist demands from patients for treatments they know have little or no effect on coughs and colds.

Research commissioned by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and published on 18 November 2011, showed 97% of patients said their GP or nurse put them on a course of antibiotics the last time they asked for a prescription.

Some 20% of adults consulted for the study said they made an appointment to see their doctor for a recent respiratory tract infection, such as a sore throat or flu. Of these, 53% expected to be prescribed antibiotics and 25% said they believed antibiotics worked on most coughs and colds.

The study also found that one in 10 people admitted to keeping leftover antibiotics – a habit which can exacerbate the developing resistance to the drug if individuals decide to treat themselves at a later stage.

While it is possible for resistant bacteria to transfer from humans to animals and animals to humans, examples of this are quite rare despite extensive research in this area. Even rarer are examples which have led to any clinical issues in human medicine.

A full armoury of antibiotics needs to remain available for vets to treat animals to ensure the food produced by the UK’s livestock farmers is as safe as possible – safe food comes from healthy animals and antibiotics are essential to treat bacterial infection in Britain’s farm animals and pets, as they are for people.

RUMA agrees with the coalition’s report that farmers, retailers, consumers, doctors and regulators all need to play our part in ensuring antimicrobials must be used responsibly – that is what the RUMA message is all about.

Notes for editors

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

RUMA Statement on New Strain of MRSA

Scientists from the University of Cambridge Veterinary School have published a paper showing that a new strain of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been discovered in milk from dairy cows and in people. The findings have been published in the journal The Lancet.

The research does not indicate where the organism originated – in humans or in cows and more research is required to investigate the epidemiology of the spread of the strain. The authors found that the pasteurisation of milk prevented any risk of infection via the food chain, so there is no risk to consumers of milk and dairy products.

More work will be done to explore the potential risks to farm workers.

RUMA chairman Peter Allen comments: “Dairy cows sometimes need antibiotics to be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon to treat bacterial infection and prevent pain and suffering. RUMA, an alliance of organisations throughout the food chain, was established 13 years ago to promote the responsible, appropriate use of veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, principally through sets of species-specific best practice guidelines.

“RUMA encourages research into understanding the development of antibiotic resistance, which is very complicated. Along with our colleagues in the medical profession, we take very seriously our responsibilities towards making sure these medicines remain effective to treat people and animals in years to come.

“Any antibiotic or veterinary medicine being administered to a food producing animal has strict conditions of use, including appropriate milk and meat withdrawal times Antibiotics are only available under prescription by a veterinary surgeon and the over-riding principle is ‘as little as possible, as much as necessary’”, he said.

The paper ‘Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with a novel mecA homologue emerging in human and bovine populations in the UK and Denmark: a descriptive study’ was published by The Lancet on Friday 3 June 2011.

SCOPS revised leaflet on Blowfly Control

SCOPS has warned that weather conditions in 2011 have led to an early and high challenge from Blowflies.

To help sheep farmers plan and get the most from the products they choose, SCOPS have updated their leaflet on Blowfly control. This contains details of all the products available, the length of protection that can be expected if they are applied properly and withdrawal periods.

See www.nationalsheep.org.uk for more SCOPS information.

SCOPS Blowfly April 2011

MEPs have called for the Responsible and Prudent Use of Antimicrobial Medicines in Food Animals, in a Resolution adopted by the European Parliament.

They also called for more information to be given to vets and farmers to minimise the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals – a statement supported by RUMA.

The NFU Brussels office commented that veterinary medicines should be used ‘as little as possible, but as much as necessary’ and added that the UK was already leading the way in Europe through its Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) initiative to help educate farmers.

RUMA, at a UK level and EPRUMA, across the EU, promote the responsible use of all animal medicines, including antimicrobials.

See here for RUMA’s practical guidelines on the use of antimicrobials in pigs, poultry, cattle, sheep and fish. Guidelines are also available on the responsible use of vaccines.

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