European regulations on the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine


Antimicrobial resistance endangers the successful combat of bacterial infections in humans and animals. The common use of antibiotic classes including those of high clinical value in human as well as veterinary medicine is a critical factor contributing to or suspected to promote the emergence of antibiotic resistance. New legal provisions laid down in veterinary drug legislations and related guidelines and advice are in force in the European Union to safeguard the effectiveness, accessibility and availability of antibiotics. Categorisation of antibiotics in classes of importance for treatment of infections of humans by the WHO was one of the first steps. This task is also undertaken for antibiotics for treatment of animals by the EMA's Antimicrobial Advice Ad Hoc Expert Group. The new veterinary Regulation (EU) 2019/6 has extended restrictions for use of some antibiotics in animals to a full ban of certain antibiotics. While some (but not all) antibiotic compounds not being authorized in veterinary medicine may still be used in companion animals more strict provisions were already applicable for treatment of food producing animal species. Distinct regulations are in place for the treatment of animals kept in large numbers in flocks. Initial regulations focussed on the protection of consumers from residues of veterinary drugs in food commodities, new regulations address prudent (not routinely) and responsible selection, prescription and use of antibiotics, and have improved the practicality for cascade use outside the terms of marketing authorisation. Mandatory recording of use of veterinary medicinal products for food safety reasons is extended to rules for veterinarians and owners or holders of animals to regularly report the use of antibiotics for the purpose of official surveillance of consumption. National sales data of antibiotic veterinary medicinal products have been collected on a voluntary basis until 2022 by ESVAC, which has created awareness of major differences between EU member states. A significant decline in sales was reported for third and fourth generation cephalosporines, polymyxins (colistin), and (fluoro)quinolones since the initiation in 2011

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