After taking part in the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s inquiry into antimicrobial resistance, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) has broadly welcomed its final report.

Most recommendations focus on human medicine – the report acknowledges (paragraph 49) “many witnesses… including the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics and RUMA which agreed that ‘the main cause of resistance in humans is the overuse/inappropriate use of antibiotics in human medicine’”.

It also says (paragraph 51) that “there is circumstantial evidence antimicrobial resistance can be transmitted from animal pathogens to human pathogens although the evidence base is incomplete”.

RUMA says it supports the committee’s call for more research, but was disappointed with the recommendation that the Government should ensure antibiotics in farm animals is strictly for therapeutic use.

John FitzGerald, RUMA’s secretary general, said: “There was no discussion of how antibiotics are or should be used in animals in the report so it is strange the committee should make such a recommendation.

“RUMA’s Preventive Use Statement says RUMA does not support the routine preventive use of antibiotics, but supports the view that controlled intervention, in both human and veterinary medicine, to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease, based on sound professional examination and advice, is better than cure.

“The committee does not comment on preventive use of antibiotics in human medicine and seems to be proposing a ‘do as I say not as I do’ approach.”

RUMA supports the other recommendations in the report and urges the animal/veterinary side is fully included in the work recommended on:

  • antimicrobial stewardship programmes, taking into account the work already done by the British Veterinary Association
  • educating clinicians and the public, noting the work of the livestock sector for European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) 2013 and the preparations for EAAD 2014
  • developing accurate, quick and cheap diagnostics
  • developing new antibiotics
  • better surveillance for antibiotic usage and antibiotic resistance in animals.
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