Antibiotic usage by vets is not the primary driver of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans, the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines (EPRUMA) has insisted.
Pointing out that veterinary antibiotic sales across Europe have halved over the last 10 years, EPRUMA claimed there was little scientific evidence to link drugs use in food production with AMR in humans.
“Scientific evidence increasingly shows that veterinary use of antibiotics is not driving resistance increases in humans, but we in the food production and veterinary sector cannot be complacent in our efforts,” said EPRUMA chair Cat McLaughlin.
McLaughlin pointed out that data from the 2021 European Medicines Agency’s report showed that veterinary antibiotic sales have been decreasing continuously across Europe since 2011.
Drop in sales
The drop over this 10-year period has reached over 50% in key markets and is now at 47% on average across the EU, UK and European Economic Area (EEA).
However, McLaughlin cautioned that the drop in antibiotic sales did not equate to an improvement regarding AMR.
“While the reduction in sales of antibiotics of animals shows great progress in terms of ensuring both better animal health and responsible use of medicines, we must not lose sight of the true objective: to reduce the development of AMR,” McLaughlin said.
Testing for resistance itself can help direct our actions
“Although sales data from animal and human health sectors can offer an indicator of trends in antibiotic use, it cannot measure whether AMR itself is rising or falling and that’s what we really need to address," she maintained.
"Testing for resistance itself can help direct our actions. Sales reporting from all sectors must also be accompanied by AMR surveillance. And we need to ensure that we are using this data to analyse where our attention and actions should focus,” she added.
“Using antibiotics responsibly in animal care will help to preserve their effectiveness and support our high standards of animal health and welfare, our food sustainability and public health across our nations,” McLaughlin argued.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue claimed last week that AMR was now a leading cause of deaths worldwide.
“It is incumbent on us all to address this problem,” the Minister said.
“Awareness of the risks posed by AMR is crucial to driving behavioural change in how antimicrobials are prescribed and used,” he added.