German Parliament Proposes Strict Measures to Cut Antibiotic Use

GERMANY - The Bundestag (Parliament) has decided on a major revision to the regulations on the use of medications for livestock, including stronger conditions for antibiotic use, more controls and greater transparency.
calendar icon 5 March 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, BMELV, has announced that the use of antibiotics in animal production should be significantly reduced in Germany.

Parliament has agreed to put forward an amendment to the regulations of medications (AMG). The changes, introduced by Consumer Affairs Minister, Ilse Aigner, will give the regional authorities stronger powers and the exchange of information between the regions will be improved by accessing a new national database. This measure will also increase transparency of antibiotic use on farms.

The amendment of the AMG would include input from the country's regions. The law will come into effect with the agreement of Parliament.

At the core of the amendment is the minimisation of antibiotic use in future. The control authorities will compare the use of these medications on one farm with others so that the producer is obliged to carry out any necessary tests or other measures - in cooperation with the veterinarian and the control body. The aim is to limit the use of antibiotics to strictly therapeutic purposes.

The most important changes in brief

The authorities and farmers will in future be able to compare the frequency of therapy on a particular farm with others across the country. This will indicate how urgently the use of antibiotics should be addressed on that particular farm.

The responsible authority will be able to take action against any farm where antibiotic use is above the national range and no measures have been taken to reduce drug use. The local authority will be able to take concrete measures against such a farm, including detailing changes to animal husbandry.

The framework will be developed for authorities to store and use the data on the frequency of therapeutic measures nationally.

It will be the responsibility of the farmer who raises animals to be consumed as food - together with their veterinarian - to monitor the frequency of medication. If this exceeds the range for that type of animal and farm set nationally, measures must be put in place to reduce it, which may involve improved hygiene, better disease prevention or improved housing conditions.

Producers and vets will be required to report the data requested by the regional authority on the the use of antibiotics in order to simplify and speed up any necessary controls.

Antibiotics that are also important in human medicine may only be used as authorised in the regulatory approval.

Authorisation will be required, for example, to change antibiotics; this will only be given based on a so-called Antibiogramm from a laboratory investigation, which is based on the likely efficacy of the antibiotic against that particular infectious agent.

A further authorisation will be required for particular antibiotics for clear conditions of use to be included in the instructions with the package to which the veterinarian must adhere. This will apply particularly to antibiotics administered orally.

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