Sales of veterinary antimicrobials

UK - The total sales of therapeutic antimicrobials for use in food animals have remained broadly steady over the last five years, according to a Government report published today.
calendar icon 20 November 2003
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Welcoming the publication of these figures, Ben Bradshaw, the Parliamentary Under Secretary (Commons) at Defra said:

"I am pleased to publish this report which underlines the Government's commitment to full transparency on this issue, and to promoting the responsible use of antimicrobials in animals. The UK is one of only a few countries worldwide that publishes such data."

The main findings in the report are that:

  • Sales of therapeutic antibiotics decreased slightly from 459 tonnes in 2001 to 457 tonnes in 2002;

  • Sales of therapeutic antiprotozoals fell in 2002 to 27 tonnes, continuing the general annual decrease in sales;

  • Sales of therapeutic antifungals in 2002 remained at similar levels to previous years;

  • There were 27 tonnes of antimicrobial growth promoters sold in 2002, compared with 43 tonnes in 2001;

  • 250 tonnes of coccidiostats were sold in 2002, a slight increase from the 242 tonnes sold in 2001.

Further Information

  1. The emergence of antimicrobial resistance as a serious problem in human medicine has led to increasing concern about the use of antimicrobials in medicine, veterinary medicine, animal production, agriculture and horticulture.

  2. In response to recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, in March 1999 the Government announced the development of a coherent strategy aimed at reducing veterinary use of antimicrobials.

  3. Until May 2000, when a paper detailing sales during the period 1993-1998 was published, there was not readily available information on the sales of antibiotics for use in farm animals. To address this problem, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has been collating information on sales of antibiotics and other antimicrobial products used as veterinary medicines or growth promoters. The figures are updated annually. The report published today details sales for 2002.

  4. The Government's response to the Advisory Committee of the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) report was published on 24 March 2000. Its publication was announced in MAFF News Release 98/00 on the same day.

  5. The other elements of the strategy to reduce the use of antimicrobial compounds in farm animals are:

    • surveillance to determine the prevalence of resistant organisms in the animal population;

    • development of guidelines to encourage the prudent use of antimicrobials;

    • promote the development of livestock management systems that reduce the use of antimicrobials;

    • reviewing the dosage regimes for authorised products and contributing to the development of EU guidelines to ensure that regimes to delay the development of resistance are put in place for new products;

    • identifying research priorities and commissioning research projects to get a better understanding of resistance;

    • ensuring that veterinary education (undergraduate and continuous professional development) reflects the importance of the issue; and

    • promoting public awareness of issues relating to the use of antimicrobials in animals.

  6. The report on sales of antimicrobial products in 2002 can be obtained free of charge from Dr Kay Goodyear at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Woodham Lane, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3LS, e-mail: [email protected], telephone 01932 338409, fax 01932 336618.

  7. The report can also be accessed through the VMD's website at

Source: Defra - 19th November 2003
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