Antibiotic advertising ban supported - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Antibiotic advertising ban supported

BANNING the advertising of
antibiotic drugs to farmers should be
welcomed by the veterinary profession,
delegates at the recent BVA congress
were told, as it would help control the
emergence of resistant bacteria and
help reduce pressure to restrict the use
of these drugs in animals.

Dr Dai Grove-White, lecturer in farm
animal studies at the Liverpool veterinary
school, argued that practitioners’
responsibilities to their livestock-owning
clients would often clash with their broader
duties to protect the public.

He insisted that there was strong
evidence of correlation between the
development of resistance to important
antibiotic groups such as fluoroquinolones
and the use of these products in
agriculture.

There are many situations in which
products are routinely being used in
preventing or treating conditions in which
clinical benefits are unlikely. For example,
in nearly all cases of enteric disease in cattle
there was little point in giving antimicrobial
drugs as the preferred treatment should be
fluid replacement therapy, he said.

Dr Grove-White was concerned that
farmers were relying on medication to
compensate for deficiencies in husbandry
standards while in other cases the choice of
antibiotic was based on economic rather
than clinical considerations. He was
particularly worried about the effects of
using the third generation cephalosporin,
ceftiofur, in the dairy industry.

This drug is associated
with the emergence of the
CXTM gene which causes
extended spectrum beta
lactamase resistance, a major
concern in human medicine.
Recent studies have shown
this gene now occurs widely
in cattle in north-western
England as a result of the
use of ceftiofur in treating
endometritis.

He warned that the practice was in
conflict with BVA recommendations on
prudent use of antimicrobials as it was
based solely on financial considerations –
the drug is not excreted in milk and so
there are no financial penalties resulting
from a need to withhold milk.

‘Unreasonable pressure’

Dr Grove-White supported the BVA
recommendations but recognised that
farmers could put unreasonable pressure
on practices. He knew of cases in which
farmers had switched to another practice if
their vet was not prepared to supply a
particular product.

Other forces might be more effective
in persuading farmers to use these valuable products more responsibly.
The demands of the major
supermarket chains were
likely to be an increasingly
powerful driver, he
suggested.

If veterinary practi-
tioners can’t persuade their
farm clients to change their
ways, even more powerful
forces may take control,
according to Peter Jones, executive director of the International
Federation for Animal Health. He feared
there would be growing pressure from the
WHO and other human medical
organisations to place blanket bans on
veterinary antibiotics.

He believed this would be very
damaging for animal health and welfare
without providing any significant benefits
for human health but said there was still
time for the profession to act in promoting
more responsible use.

The VMD’s proposal for a ban on
advertising antimicrobials in the farm press
was one useful step as it would reduce
demands from farmers for their vet to
prescribe “fashionable” products, Mr Jones
suggested.

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