MEPs have voted to ban collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals and backed measures to stimulate research into medicines. 

Pig pills
“The fight against antibiotic resistance must start on farms” – Image: malp / Fotolia.

The MEPs voted on draft plans to update an EU law on veterinary medicines on 10 March. The objectives of the draft law aim to:

  • increase the availability of veterinary medicinal products
  • reduce administrative burdens
  • stimulate competitiveness and innovation
  • improve the functioning of the internal market
  • address the public health risk of antimicrobial resistance

‘Energetic measures’

Speaking about the vote, MEP Françoise Grossetête, member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee, said: “With the World Health Organization warning us the world risks drifting into a postantibiotic era, in which antibiotic resistance would cause more deaths each year than cancer, it is high time we took energetic measures and grasped the problem at its roots.

MEP Françoise Grossetête
MEP Françoise Grossetête, by Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle, CC BY-SA 3.0.

“The fight against antibiotic resistance must start on farms. We wish to prohibit the purely preventive use of antibiotics, restrict collective treatment to very specific cases, prohibit the veterinary use of antibiotics critically important for human medicine and put an end to online sales of antibiotics, vaccines and psychotropic substances.

“Thanks to these measures, we hope to reduce the amounts of antibiotics found on consumers’ plates.”

Therapeutic arsenal

“However, we need not reduce the therapeutic arsenal available to vets. This law aims to facilitate their work,” Mrs Grossetête stated. “It is absolutely necessary to encourage research and innovation in this sector.”

Veterinary medicines must not, under any circumstances, serve to improve performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry, say MEPs, who advocate limiting the prophylactic use of antimicrobials (for example, as a preventive measure and in the absence of clinical signs of infection) to single animals and only when justified by a vet.

MEPs also supported a report amending a law to improve marketing authorisation procedure for veterinary medicinal products, which will be separated from that for human medicine.

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