Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

RUMA Surprise and Disappointment at CMO’s Unprecedented Proposal to Kill Animals rather than Treat Them with Antibiotics

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, has proposed that badly infected animals should be slaughtered rather than treated with antibiotics.

The Mail article is focused on human antibiotic prescribing with just a small section on animal use. But this section also reports the CMO as claiming that antibiotic use in animals is a substantial source of antibiotic resistance in humans which is a dramatic change from her previous position and UK Government policy. Scientific evidence shows that the main source of resistant infections in people is the use of antibiotics in people.

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, said his members had expressed considerable surprise and grave disappointment at the CMO’s reported comments and RUMA is seeking a meeting with Dame Sally. The purpose of the meeting would be to review any scientific evidence she has to support her reported comment that animal use is a substantial source of resistance in humans and to seek clarification of her unprecedented proposal that sick animals should be slaughtered rather than treated. In particular, RUMA will ask how many animals the CMO thinks it is acceptable to slaughter rather than treat and whether her comments apply also to family pets. RUMA will also make it clear that treating sick animals is an essential way for farmers to ensure that they comply with animal welfare legislation.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. The Daily Mail article can be found at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2588475/Family-doctors-told-stop-doling-antibiotics-Chief-medical-officer-accuses-GPs-prescribing-drugs-patients-suffering-minor-illnesses.html
  2. The section on animal use in the article says

    She also called for a cut in the use of antibiotics in farm animals, one of the biggest causes of resistance to the drugs.

    Controversially, she urged vets to slaughter sick animals rather than give them antibiotics to help them recover. She said: ‘I had a bit of a problem with some vets recently because I said, “Why don’t you just slaughter animals when they’re badly infected?” It seems to me much better because then they can’t transmit them [antibiotics].

    At the moment, if you eat a farmed salmon in America it has probably eaten its own weight in antibiotics.

  3. RUMA is an alliance of 23 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 please contact RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald (rumasec@btinternet.com)

Carbapenems not used in Livestock

The recently announced increase in carbapenem resistance in humans led to an Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics inspired article in The Independent on 12 March 2014 calling for a ban on carbapenem use in agriculture.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) would like to point out that

  • there are no carbapenem antibiotic products authorised for use in animals and
  • there is no evidence of carbapenem use in livestock under the prescribing cascade (often referred to as off-label use).

With no carbapenem use in livestock, this means that the resistance reported in humans has come from the use of carbapenems in human medicine.

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, said antibiotics are key medicines in both human and animal health and they should be used responsibly. The carbapenem resistance reported in the UK and recent research which shows that resistant bacteria from humans and animals are genetically different strengthen the UK Government’s and RUMA’s view that human use of antibiotics is the prime source of antibiotic resistance in humans.

Once again, RUMA is disappointed that the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics continues to use an important one-health issue like antibiotic resistance to attack conventional farming. Indeed, this misinformation and unnecessary scaremongering only serves to confuse the issue. It is essential that antibiotics that are necessary to maintain animal health and welfare remain available for veterinary use. The best way to tackle antibiotic resistance is for all involved in the use of antibiotics in humans and animals to work together.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. The Independent article can be found at http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/ban-vets-from-using-last-resort-antibiotics-to-beat-drugresistant-bacteria-say-campaigners-9185088.html
  2. Carbapenems are a class of antibiotics where only medicines for human use have been authorised. There are no antibiotic products for animal use that contain carbapenems.
  3. The prescribing cascade is a decision tree set out in EC legislation to allow veterinary surgeons to use other medicines where there is no product authorised for the species and/or disease that is being treated. The cascade recognises the lack of authorised veterinary medicines available to treat the wide range of animal species and disease. There is no evidence of any use of carbapenems in livestock under the cascade.
  4. The following research has shown that antibiotic resistant bacteria from humans and animals are genetically different.
    • Mather AE et al (2013) Distinguishable Epidemics of Multidrug Resistant Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 in different hosts. Science express published on line 12 September 2013
    • Wu G, Day MJ, Mafura MT, Nunez-Garcia J, Fenner JJ, et al. (2013) Comparative Analysis of ESBL-Positive Escherichia coli Isolates from Animals and Humans from the UK, The Netherlands and Germany. PLoS ONE 8(9): e75392. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075392
    • M de Been et al. ECMID 2013 Whole genome sequence-based epidemiological analysis of ESBL-producing Escherichia Coli’ .
  5. The Department of Health’s 5 year Strategy on Antimicrobial Resistance said ‘Increasing scientific evidence suggests that the clinical issues with antimicrobial resistance that we face in human medicine are primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, rather than antibiotics in animals’. (Point 2.1, page 8, Department of Health UK 5 Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-5-year-antimicrobial-resistance-strategy-2013-to-2018
  6. RUMA is an alliance of 23 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. A full list of RUMA members is at paragraph 4 below. For further information contact RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald (rumasec@btinternet.com)
  7. RUMA’s members are:
    • Agricultural Industries Confederation
    • Animal Health Distributors Association
    • Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority
    • BPEX and EBLEX
    • British Egg Industry Council
    • British Poultry Council
    • British Retail Consortium
    • British Veterinary Association
    • City and Guilds
    • DairyCo
    • Dairy UK
    • Game Farmers’ Association
    • LEAF
    • National Beef Association
    • National Farmers’ Union
    • National Office of Animal Health
    • National Pig Association
    • National Sheep Association
    • NFU Scotland
    • Red Tractor Assurance
    • Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers
    • RSPCA
    • Royal Pharmaceutical Society

    Observers

    • Food Standards Agency
    • Veterinary Medicines Directorate
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