Antibiotic use in animals may soon become more limited

Medicating the whole herd to cure sick animals and to prevent the infection of healthy animals may soon be a thing of the past if EU legislation is agreed upon.

The responsible use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, which includes medicated feed, by allowing their use only for treatment after veterinary diagnosis is being advocated by MEPs also.

Two pieces of legislation relating to antibiotic use in humans and animals are currently under discussion by MEPs in the European Parliament.

The Parliament has voted in favour of tackling the growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics.

MEP’s recently voted on the recommendations of Italian MEP Piernicola Pedicini who said that in the veterinary sector, online sales of antimicrobials and their prophylactic use should be prevented.

The use of veterinary antibiotics should therefore gradually be restricted to therapeutic purposes, by progressively eliminating their use for preventative treatment, MEPs say.

The use of metaphylaxis, i.e. the mass medication of animals to cure sick ones on farms whilst preventing the infection of healthy ones, should also be kept to a minimum, say MEPs.

Pedicini’s recommendations were approved by 637 votes to 32, with 10 abstentions.

Last year the European Medicines Agency (EMA) made recommendations to the European Commission to limit the development of antimicrobial resistance linked to the use of antibiotics in animals.

Recommendations by the EMA included introducing legal tools to restrict the use of antibiotics in animals if a significant risk to public health is identified.

The new proposals are part of a suggested blueprint by MEPS to improve patient safety, including tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics, using today’s treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation, are set out in a resolution voted on this week.

MEPs note that 8 – 12% of patients in EU hospitals suffer adverse events, such as healthcare-related infections, which are implicated in 37,000 deaths a year and place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets.

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