Antibiotic Resistance in Humans Unrelated to Farm Animal Use

UK - Following a recent newspaper article blaming on the development of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens on animal agriculture, an industry organisation states that carbapenems are not used in livestock.
calendar icon 2 April 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

The recently announced increase in carbapenem resistance in humans led to an Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics inspired article in The Independent on 12 March 2014 calling for a ban on carbapenem use in agriculture.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) would like to point out that

  • there are no carbapenem antibiotic products authorised for use in animals and
  • there is no evidence of carbapenem use in livestock under the prescribing cascade (often referred to as off-label use).

With no carbapenem use in livestock, this means that the resistance reported in humans has come from the use of carbapenems in human medicine.

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, said antibiotics are key medicines in both human and animal health and they should be used responsibly. The carbapenem resistance reported in the UK and recent research which shows that resistant bacteria from humans and animals are genetically different strengthen the UK Government’s and RUMA’s view that human use of antibiotics is the prime source of antibiotic resistance in humans.

Once again, RUMA says it is disappointed that the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics continues to use an important one-health issue like antibiotic resistance to attack conventional farming. Indeed, this misinformation and unnecessary scaremongering only serves to confuse the issue. It is essential that antibiotics that are necessary to maintain animal health and welfare remain available for veterinary use. The best way to tackle antibiotic resistance is for all involved in the use of antibiotics in humans and animals to work together.

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