Medics Urge More Action on Antibiotics in Farming

UK - Fifteen of the UK's most senior medics have called on the government to tackle "routine misuse of antibiotics in UK farming", in a letter published in The Telegraph to mark the start of World Antibiotic Awareness Week.
calendar icon 14 November 2016
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The letter was coordinated by the organisations Alliance to Save our Antibiotics and Medact, and points to preventative use of antibiotics on farms and farm use of antibiotics categorised as 'critically important' to humans as key issues.

The groups said that it remains legal in the EU to routinely administer antibiotics to whole groups of livestock before any disease has been diagnosed within the group.

Professor Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “GPs and our teams are doing an excellent job of reducing prescriptions for antibiotics, with the latest NHS figures showing a 2.6m decrease in UK general practice last year. But it’s not just the healthcare sector that has responsibility for curbing resistance to antibiotics; the agriculture sector must also play its part."

The agricultural industry as a whole is already working to reduce antibiotics use, with particular success seen in the poultry sector, which reduced antibiotics use by 44 per cent between 2012 and 2015. The UK government has set targets for a reduction in antibiotics use by around 19 per cent by 2018, based on sales recorded by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in 2014.

Members of the European Parliament advocated banning collective and preventative use of the medicines in March, and forthcoming negotiations between the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Commission will consider this proposal.

The letter signatories urge the UK government to take a strong stand in these discussions, and to ensure that after Brexit such measures are enshrined in UK law.

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