Antimicrobial Use in Veterinary Medicine – Paper for the European Commission

In response to the European Commission’s willingness to receive advice and comments on antimicrobial resistance, RUMA prepared and submitted the following paper (September 2012)

RUMA welcomes the Commission’s aims for the current review of the Veterinary Medicines Directive 2001/82 and Medicated Feedingstuffs Directive 90/167/EEC and especially to deliver a regulatory system that can address appropriately the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) challenge. RUMA also welcomes the Commission’s willingness to receive advice and comments from those working in the field as evidenced by the far reaching consultation and the experts’ meeting on antimicrobial resistance held in Brussels on 8 June 2012. At that meeting RUMA understands that the Commission invited further comment and is pleased to provide this paper.


RUMA is pleased to note that all of the key documents issued by the Commission, Council and European Parliament on antimicrobial resistance in recent months call for antimicrobials to be used responsibly in both humans and animals. These documents recognise that AMR is a global threat to the continued effectiveness of antimicrobials and that antimicrobial resistance does not respect geographical or species boundaries. AMR is clearly a one health issue that needs to be tackled collaboratively by all interested groups. In particular, RUMA announced its strong support for the Commission’s action plan against the rising threat of AMR in a press release issued on 29 November 2011.

Medicine use in animals

Like people, animals get sick. Those responsible for the animal will be faced with several choices and actions, the first of which is to make sure that the animal’s needs are fully catered for so providing a safe, quiet and clean environment with adequate food and water. The decision to treat the animal with an appropriate available treatment or euthanase it will depend on the severity of the illness, any legal controls relating to the diagnosis and the value of the animal. This is, of course, different to human medicine where people must be treated using the different treatment options open to medical doctors. Furthermore, culling rather than treating animals represents an economic loss to the farmer, increased costs to the consumer and a greater environmental impact by the food production sector.

In order to maintain animal health and welfare most farm animals that fall ill will be treated with an authorised veterinary medicine on the advice of a veterinary surgeon who must prescribe the appropriate medicine. This is important as safe food comes from healthy animals.

The full version of these guidelines can be downloaded here.

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