RUMA welcomes call to action on antibiotics – but underlines UK position on farm animal use

RUMA has welcomed the profile given today (13 October) of a possible “post-antibiotic apocalypse” by England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies. She was speaking at a global ‘Superbugs’ conference held in Berlin.

RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald says: “It’s critical the issue of antibiotic resistance and drug resistant infections is raised at every opportunity. It is a One Health problem that affects all of us – the public, doctors, vets, animal keepers – and we can all play a part in tackling it.

“While we wholeheartedly support the calls for responsible use and oversight of antibiotics globally in both human and agricultural sectors, we want to stress that the situation in the UK is very different, with fewer antibiotics used in farming than in many parts of the world, and no antibiotic growth promotion permitted. All antibiotics must be prescribed by a vet and used only to treat or prevent the spread of disease to maintain the health and welfare of the animal.

“Between 2014 and 2015, sales of antibiotics for farm animals fell 10% and we are expecting further reductions when the sales data from 2016 is released by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate later this month. Furthermore, each livestock sector has been working on setting its own targets for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotics, and these will also be released at the RUMA conference on 27 October.

“We all accept that action in farming is one part of the solution, and are very pleased with the engagement from UK livestock sectors. While there is a moral duty to act, farmers are also realising that we will not have access to any new antibiotics to treat animal disease and safeguard animal welfare – these will all be directed to human medicine. So we have a very strong motivation to protect the efficacy of the antibiotics we do have.”

The RUMA conference is being held on 27 October at the Sainsbury’s Centre in Holborn, London. Limited tickets are still available here.