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10 November 2022

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the publication of two new reports that show impressive overall reductions in the sale and use of veterinary antibiotics on farms and the work that has gone into achieving this. The UK is now one of the lowest users of this class of drugs in Europe.

The findings were revealed in the latest UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) and RUMA Targets Task Force 2 reports, released yesterday (8 November) by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), respectively.

The VARSS report shows that sales of antibiotics for use in livestock have reduced by 55% since 2014 to their lowest ever recorded level. Crucially, sales of highest priority, critically important antibiotics, which have been designated by the World Health Organisation as antibiotics crucial for treating disease in humans, have declined for a seventh year in a row, with a 83% reduction since 2014.

The RUMA report summarises progress against antibiotic use targets identified by the UK livestock industry’s Targets Task Force 2, covering ten sectors across aquaculture, pigs, poultry and ruminants.

British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Anna Judson said:

“Both the VARSS and RUMA reports show that the UK continues to maintain the momentum in stewarding responsible veterinary antibiotic use in the face of the ongoing global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

“It is encouraging to see steady overall reductions in antibiotic sale and use, despite the unique challenges resulting from Brexit, rising production costs, the cost-of-living crisis and record numbers of avian influenza cases. It is a testament to the hugely successful collaborative work being carried out by vets, farmers and the industry to champion responsible antibiotic use and greater disease prevention measures across each of the livestock sectors, while ensuring that antibiotics continue to be available for use in the interest of animal health and welfare.”

The two reports come ahead of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November) and European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November). BVA will continue to highlight the excellent collaborative work being done by all the livestock sectors as part of its awareness-raising efforts on this vital topic.

BVA’s policy position on the responsible use of antimicrobials in food producing animals is available to view here.


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