Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

Response to new study in the British Medical Journal: RUMA urges farmers and vets to complete animal medication courses

RUMA’s independent Scientific Group has urged caution over a new article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) (26 July), which concludes there is little evidence that failing to complete a prescribed antibiotic course in human medicine contributes to antibiotic resistance.

The Scientific Group has advised farming and veterinary communities to continue following current prescription guidelines and completing courses of animal treatments until more research is carried out.

Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology with Kingston University London and member of the RUMA Scientific Group, says:

“While it is right to debate and question current practice in science in medicine, it is also important to ensure the continuation of best practice unless new evidence suggests otherwise.

“In line with the comments made by Public Health England, it is imperative for patients to follow the instructions given by their prescribing physician or pharmacist in relation to antibiotics. The same applies to farmers and their prescribing vets.

“It is imperative that the full course of antibiotics are used following culture and sensitivity testing to ensure that the drug has had the opportunity to act against the invading organism and achieve the best outcome.

“This will also help in the prevention of resistance development as if the correct antibiotic is prescribed and administered in the most appropriate way, then it follows that there is the best opportunity for the organism to be killed, dead organisms do not mutate and so develop resistance.”

This mirrors the advice from the chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, who has said the message to the public on medical use of antibiotics should remain unchanged until there is further research.


European antibiotic report links antibiotic use and resistance

A European report issued this week (27 July), analysing use of antibiotics and occurrence of resistance in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals, confirms UK farm animal use is comparatively low against many of its European neighbours. But it also highlights the potential for more responsible use in both humans and animals to reduce antibiotic resistance.

The report, the second of its kind produced jointly by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), indicates that in 2014, UK antibiotic use for humans was about average within Europe (Europe: 124mg/kg; UK: 129mg/kg) but 60% below average in animals (Europe: 152mg/kg; UK: 62mg/kg).

UK farm animal use of the highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics was also very low, particularly colistin, where average consumption by farm animals in the UK was significantly below the European average.

Resistance to fluoroquinolones in Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria from humans is identified in the report to be related to consumption of fluoroquinolones in animals – ratifying one of the priorities of the UK poultry meat sector in achieving a 72% reduction in fluoroquinolone use between 2012 and 2016. However, it is stressed that resistance is complex, and factors other than the amount of antibiotics used can influence the level of resistance found.

The report also notes a clear link between total antibiotic consumption and the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in both humans and farm animals. This suggests that measures to encourage responsible use should target all classes of antibiotics to reduce the risk of ‘co-selection’, where use of one type of antibiotic produces resistance to another.

John FitzGerald, Secretary General of RUMA, welcomed the report, but said the situation was likely to change rapidly as awareness grew of the contribution farming can make in a One Health approach to antibiotic stewardship.

He said: “The UK’s most recent Veterinary Antimicrobials Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) report on 2015 sales data saw a 10% drop in antibiotics sales into food-producing animals compared with the previous year.

“This, alongside significant reported reductions in usage in the poultry and pig sectors – released via the recent British Poultry Council Antibiotic Stewardship Report and AHDB’s e-Medicine Book data – will have changed the picture again.”

He added the report underlines the importance of the most recent falls in use and the need for further reductions in use across the board. Those in farming needed to be aware that changing their use of antibiotics could not only help manage the global risk of antibiotic resistance, it could lower the risk of drug-resistant infections developing among UK livestock.

“However, as highlighted in an EFSA/EMA report produced earlier this year, each local situation in each country needs its own multifaceted approach.

“There has been a tendency for critics to promote alternative farming systems or demand blanket implementation of rules in other countries, when what we actually need is to reduce use in a sustainable way that safeguards animal welfare,” added Mr FitzGerald.

The report says its conclusions are in line with those of the first report published in 2015. However, the availability of better quality data has allowed for a more sophisticated analysis.

It is expected that the VARSS report analysing 2016 sales data for food-producing animals, due for issue later this year, will show further reductions. A new One Health report comparing sales of antibiotics in the UK for humans and animals, also using 2016 data, is due to be issued after that.

Letter submitted to The Guardian 19 July 2017 – ‘Mega-farms’


Reports on ‘mega farms’ (Guardian 17, 18 July) persist in linking large scale farming with high antibiotic use – despite featuring poultry farmer Richard Williams who says no antibiotic has been used on his site since it was set up two years ago.

Richard is not alone. Since 2012, members of the British Poultry Council’s Antibiotic Stewardship scheme, representing more than 90% of UK poultry meat production, have achieved a 71% reduction in total antibiotic use. The latest UK data highlight a 10% fall in antibiotic sales for farm animals. Sales of highest priority antibiotics to farming have also fallen and new pig industry data shows use of colistin dropped by over 70% between 2015 and 2016 – despite UK farming already being one of the lowest users in Europe.

It may suit campaign groups to add antibiotics to the list of issues they have with larger scale farming, but resorting to global or European data and analogies because the UK data doesn’t back their case is disingenuous. In the UK, scale of farming is not a factor in antibiotic use.

Gwyn Jones
Chair, Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance

New Red Tractor antibiotic rules outlined

Standards affecting the use and recording of antibiotics are being bolstered across all Red Tractor Assurance livestock sectors this October, supporting the UK farming industry’s commitment to play its part in tackling antimicrobial resistance. Here’s a summary of what’s changing.

Beef and lamb: Animal medicines

A recommendation has been added that the highest priority critically important antibiotics (Colistin, third and fourth generation Cephalosporins, Fluoroquinolones) are only used as a last resort under veterinary direction. For farm to farm sales, animals under statutory withdrawal periods for medicines must be accompanied by a withdrawal period declaration.

Dairy: Documented medicine records

Medicine records must provide an annual collation of total antibiotic used for the unit either by a vet from prescription data or completed by a farmer from medicine records. An annual review of antibiotics used must be undertaken by a vet. For farm-to-farm sales, animals under statutory withdrawal periods for medicines must be accompanied by a withdrawal period declaration.

Poultry: Antibiotics

Broiler producers must only use antibiotics to treat a problem and total antibiotic use should now be recorded in mg/PCU*. The use of third and fourth generation Cephalosporins, Glycopeptides and Colistin are not permitted, but Macrolides and Fluoroquinolones are allowed if backed up by a vet and with written permission from the company purchasing the birds.

Pigs: Responsible use of medicines

In addition to the new requirement that all antibiotic use is recorded on the national e-Medicines Book, vets are required to sign a quarterly declaration to confirm they are prescribing antibiotics in accordance with the PVS Prescribing Principles for Antimicrobials. Use of antibiotics classified as Class 3 (products of last resort, namely Colistin, third and fourth generation Cephalosporins and Fluoroquinolones) must be justified in the veterinary health plan.

*PCU = Production Corrected Unit, calculated to provide a common comparative unit for each livestock sector.

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