O'Neill response - Government outlines plans to address AMR
16th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver
The Government has confirmed its commitment to setting targets for antibiotic usage across the livestock sectors and to introducing tougher regulation on veterinary medicines.
The Government published its response to Lord Jim O’Neill’s review on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on Friday, reiterating its commitment to leading the global fight against AMR by taking forward the review’s recommendations.
It confirmed Defra’s commitment to a reduction in antibiotic usage in livestock and fish farmed for food to an average across the sectors of 50mg/kg by 2018. This compares with the most recent figure, from 2014, of 62mg/kg.
Defra will work with individual sectors to ensure appropriate sector specific reduction targets are agreed by 2017.
The Government announced its intention to agree new rules to restrict the use of antibiotics considered to be of the ‘highest critical importance to human medicine’. There will be a ‘significant increase in regulatory oversight of veterinary antibiotics’, it warned.
It also pledged to adopt a global approach to the problem, working with the EU, and to invest in research to stimulate the development of new antimicrobial drugs.
There is a strong focus on human medicine, too, including a commitment to reduce inappropriate human antibiotic prescribing by 50%, with the aim of being a world leader in reducing prescribing by 2020.
In the foreword to the Government’s response, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom say: “The threat of drug resistance is very real and it is in all of our interests to tackle it.”
The NPA has responded by stressing that the pig industry is already fully committed to a programme of action to tackle the problem.
For example, new figures this week showed records covering more than five million pigs have now been entered onto eMB-Pigs, the industry database introduced to record antibiotic usage. And the NPA’s producer group recently recommended that eMB-Pigs should be made compulsory under the Red Tractor Pork scheme.
You can see the NPA press release here
Dr Georgina Crayford, who leads on AMR for the NPA, said the industry was fully aware of its responsibilities on the issue but needed support from Government.
She said: “The pig industry is completely committed to meeting the recommendations laid out in the O’Neill report. Good progress is being made in recording antibiotic usage and we continue to encourage farmers to use eMB-Pigs so we can quantify national usage levels and ensure appropriate reduction targets are set.
“We will continue to work with Government and the industry alliance brought together by RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) to set responsible and proportionate usage targets for the pig sector.
“However, any reduction in antibiotic use must balance the need to address AMR with the equally important need to protect the health and welfare of our livestock.
She added: “We can’t do this on our own. Producers need support from Government, particularly for new pig buildings, which are more hygienic and allow better biosecurity, to improve herd health and reduce the need for antibiotics.”
The O’Neill Review, published in May, called for co-ordinated measures on a global scale to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics in human and animal medicine.
Earlier this year, the NPA launched its Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, details of which can be seen here