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NPA welcomes reduction in pig industry Colistin usage

5th Jun 2017 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has welcomed new figures suggesting a significant drop in usage by the pig sector of Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort used to treat a number of bacterial infections in both humans and animals

pigletsThe latest available UK sales data from 2015 shows Colistin sales into veterinary medicines were already low at around one tenth of the EU recommended limit.

But preliminary analysis by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance of data received via the new pig e-Medicines Book (e-MB) suggests that use of Colistin in pigs decreased more than 70% last year.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the figures were yet another indication of how the pig sector was rising to the challenge of reducing and refining antibiotic usage.

She said: "This data shows exactly how seriously farmers and their vets have taken this issue, and despite what certain NGO’s often spout, this is an industry that does what it says it will!"

PVS president Mark White said: "Veterinary surgeons working with their clients voluntarily restricted Colistin's use last year and this is a perfect example of how vets can and do prescribe responsibly. The key point is the need to conserve use for when it really is necessary."

The NPA will this week submit a joint proposal with the Pig Veterinary Society to the RUMA Targets Task Force for a proportionate long-term target to reduce overall antibiotic usage within the pig sector.

Serious infections

Mandy Nevel, AHDB Pork's veterinary team manager said the news is important as Colistin use in humans has increased in recent years for the treatment of specific serious bacterial infections that are resistant to other antibiotics.

“This is why the European Medicines Agency has classified Colistin as a highest priority ‘Critically Important Antibiotic’ for the treatment of a number of human bacterial conditions, despite it being a very old drug,” she said.

“But crucially, the regulators have retained access for animal use because it also has importance as a last-resort drug to safeguard welfare in livestock. It’s very positive to see the pig sector – vets and farmers together – responding to the responsibility of having continued access to this drug as a last resort and reducing use where possible.”

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones welcomed the news and said the findings meant that once 2016 sales data are released, the UK could be one of the five lowest users of Colistin in Europe.

He says: “We were looking for significant reductions in 2016 following the best practice guidelines issued by the Pig Veterinary Society at the end of 2015, but this has exceeded our hopes.

“It also follows hot on the heels of the announcement in February that prescribed antibiotics administered in feed for young pigs have halved, with more than two thirds of that reduction taking place in 2016.

“This shows the pig industry is really engaging with this issue and making some very strong progress in reducing, refining and replacing antibiotics use.”

Two-thirds of national herd

eMB-Pigs, which was developed and launched by AHDB Pork last year, has now collected the 2015 and 2016 ‘medical’ records of more than two-thirds of the national herd.

More data will be made public later this year in line with the publication of sector-specific targets at RUMA’s conference in association with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate on October 27.