Countries Asked to Cut Use of Last-Resort Antibiotic in Animals

EU - The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended that colistin-containing medicines should only be used as a second line treatment in animals and sale should be reduced across the EU.
calendar icon 28 July 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

Colistin has been used for over 50 years in both humans and animals. In human medicines it is a last resort medicine to treat bacterial infections resistant to other antibiotics.

Partly due to the development of resistance to other classes of antibiotics, colistin consumption has increased in recent years. Today it is one of the five most commonly used antibiotics in animals within the EU.

However, the EMA is now recommending its use is cut to preserve its effectiveness, preventing dangerous bacteria developing more resistance.

The European Commission asked for this update in response to the discovery of a new mechanism of resistance in bacteria to colistin (caused by the mcr-1 gene).

The measure outlined to solve the problem involves an overall reduction of approximately 65 per cent in the current sales of colistin for veterinary use at an EU level. This decrease should build on the decrease of colistin sales for veterinary use already seen between 2011 and 2013, with Member States introducing more stringent targets if progress is made.

The agency recommended that colistin use should not be replaced by other antibiotics, but reduction should be achieved through other measures such as improved farming conditions, biosecurity between production cycles, and vaccination of livestock.

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