RUMA welcomes select comittee report

RUMA (The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) was delighted to play a part in the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s Inquiry into antimicrobial resistance and, with one caveat, welcomes the Committee’s Report “Ensuring Access to Working Antimicrobials” published today.

Most of the Report and its recommendations focus on human medicine. This is understandable as the Report acknowledges (paragraph 49) “many witnesses … including the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics and RUMA which agreed that “the main cause of resistance in humans is the overuse/inappropriate use of antibiotics in human medicine””.

The Report also says (paragraph 51) that “there is circumstantial evidence that antimicrobial resistance can be transmitted from animal pathogens to human pathogens although the evidence base is incomplete”. RUMA supports the Committee’s call for more research into this area but is disappointed with the recommendation that the Government takes action to ensure that the use of antibiotics in farm animals is strictly required for therapeutic use. John FitzGerald, RUMA’s Secretary General, said that there was no discussion of how antibiotics are or should be used in animals in the report so it is strange that the Committee should make such a recommendation. He added that RUMA’s Preventive Use Statement says that RUMA does not support the routine preventive use of antibiotics but we do support the view that controlled intervention, in both human and veterinary medicine, to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease, based on sound professional examination and advice, is better than cure. The Committee does not comment on preventive use of antibiotics in human medicine and seems to be proposing a “do as I say not as I do” approach.

RUMA supports the other recommendations in the Report and would strongly urge that the animal/veterinary side is fully included in the work recommended on:

antimicrobial stewardship programmes, taking into account the work already done by the British Veterinary Association

educating clinicians and the public, noting the work of the livestock sector for European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) 2013 and the preparations for EAAD 2014

developing accurate, quick and cheap diagnostics

developing new antibiotics

better surveillance for antibiotic usage and antibiotic resistance in animals.

Much work has and is being done to promote and influence all aspects of responsible antibiotic use in UK livestock. The details of this work are set out in the RUMA Action Plan for implementing the UK’s Five Year AMR Strategy including, for example, the embedding of antimicrobial resistance into veterinary surgeon’s CPD training, prescribing advice by the Pig Veterinary Society and introducing a more focussed approach to disease prevention in Red Tractor’s Farm Assurance Standards.

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