Annual report shows almost 10 per cent drop.
The number of antibiotics sold for use in food-producing animals has fallen to its lowest recorded level, according to the latest UK-Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report (VARRS).
The data for 2022, published today (1 November), shows a drop of almost 10 per cent compared to the previous year. This means that sales have now decreased by 59 per cent since 2014.
However, although the sale of veterinary antibiotics decreased for most animal sectors where data is collected, there was a large increase in the trout sector, where it more than doubled. The British Trout Association has investigated this rise and found that an outbreak of Aeormas salmonicida on a small number of sites was responsible.
There was also a slight rise in sales of highest priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIAs), which increased by 0.01 tonnes. However, HP-CIAs continue to make up less than 0.5 per cent of total veterinary antibiotic sales.
The annual VARRS report, published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, is part of the Government’s ’20-year vision’ for controlling and containing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by 2040.
In 2019, a five-year National Action Plan for AMR was launched, which included a focus on reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics in the animal health sector. The Government is planning to launch a new five-year National Action Plan for AMR next year when the current action plan comes to an end.
Abi Seager, Veterinary Medicines Directorate chief executive said: “Antibiotic stewardship is embedded in UK farming and responsible use is essential to maintaining our high animal health and welfare standards.
“I’m encouraged that our vets and farmers continue to make reductions in their antibiotic prescribing and use.
“We are continuing to expand monitoring to build upon our current knowledge and control the spread of AMR to strengthen the UK’s biosecurity.”
The new data has been welcomed by the veterinary profession.
British Veterinary Association president Anna Judson said: “Antibiotic resistance is a really serious issue for the health of both people and animals, and so it is fantastic to see continued progress in reducing the sale and use of these important medicines. This has been achieved through the hard work of the veterinary profession in co-operation with farmers over the past ten years, but there is still work to do.
“We must continue pushing forward, building greater awareness of the issue, or risk losing medicines that are essential for treating many serious conditions.”
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