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On a learning curve

December saw the publication of the 3rd Report under the 'Review of Antimicrobial Resistance' entitled 'Reducing unnecessary use and waste'.

Several references were made to the initiatives taken by the livestock industry in Denmark to eliminate unnecessary use of veterinary medicines.

The report provoked a strong reaction from the UK animal health industry. The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) launched a detailed 'critique' of the report suggesting, amongst other things, that the Danish approach was narrowly based on setting targets for ‘arbitrary reduction’ of antibiotic use in livestock with little regard for animal health or limiting the spread of antibiotic resistance.

This is simply not the case, but it is certainly true that the initiatives taken in Denmark to encourage responsible use of veterinary medicines have led to lower use.

Danish farmers fully support the view that prudent and responsible use of antibiotics is a major part of our ‘duty of care’ to the animals in our charge.

The Danish approach to the use of veterinary medicines, based on both legislation and the farming industry’s own initiatives, is wide-ranging and from the mid-1990s has included:

  • a strong focus on animal health - 70% of the pigs born in Denmark derive from the Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) system;
  • the clear separation between veterinary advice and the commercial sale of veterinary medicines to ensure greater transparency;
  • the introduction of the national VETSTAT database in 2000, enabling monitoring of the use of antibiotics at individual farm level to inform policy and strategy;
  • targeted actions regarding use of important categories of antibiotics, such as cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines.

The management of the risks associated with the spread of antibiotics requires global solutions. The best way forward is to share knowledge and learn from the experiences of others.

Links here: Review of Antimicrobial Resistance, 'Reducing unnecessary use and waste'.

Wednesday 6th January 2016