The preventive use of antibiotics in farm animals (prophylaxis)
RUMA sets out definitions and a matrix review of antibiotic use in animals showing how antibiotics can be used responsibly in animals to cure, control and, in exceptional circumstances, prevent disease. (April 2013)
RUMA is aware of the debate on the preventive use of antibiotics and, in particular, the European Parliament’s view that prophylactic use of antibiotics on farm should not be allowed (ref: EP resolution on the public health threat of AMR 27 October 2011). A similar proposal was made during the House of Commons debate on antibiotic use on intensive farms on 9 January 2013.
It is clear from the comments of various interested groups that there is no single understanding of what is meant by prophylactic use of medicines. RUMA believes the debate would benefit from some clarification by explaining the manner in which antibiotics are used responsibly in farm animals and moving away from potentially confusing and misleading terms such as prophylaxis and metaphylaxis, which imply different things to different people.
There is a widely held and justifiable belief, in both human and veterinary medicine, that controlled intervention to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease based on sound professional examination and advice is better than cure. There is also general agreement that antibiotics should be used responsibly in human and veterinary medicine, including not using antibiotics to treat viruses or as a substitute for good farm management practices, which reduce the risk of disease.
RUMA strongly supports these views and considers that the following definitions and matrix review of antibiotic use in animals set out how antibiotics can be used responsibly in animals to cure, control and, in exceptional circumstances, prevent disease.