16 Mar 2016   |   News

MEPs call for investment in antibiotic development and restrictions on veterinary use

To fight growing antimicrobial resistance, the use of existing antimicrobial drugs should be restricted, and there should be incentives for new ones should be developed

In a vote on draft plans to update EU law on veterinary medicines, MEPs have backed a ban on collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals and called for measures to stimulate research into new medicines.

“With the World Health Organisation warning us that the world risks drifting into a post-antibiotic 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,” said rapporteur Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR).

“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 that are critically important for human medicine and put an end to online sales of antibiotics, vaccines and psychotropic substances,” Grossetête said.

Veterinary medicines must not under any circumstances be used to improve performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry, say MEPs. Using antibiotics as a preventive measure, in the absence of clinical signs of infection should be limited to single animals and only when fully justified by a veterinarian.

To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the revised law would empower the European Commission to designate certain antimicrobials for human use only.

To encourage research into new antimicrobials, MEPs want to see incentives, including longer periods of market exclusivity.

In parallel with the call for action from the European Parliament, the Dutch EU Presidency for the first time brought together ministers of health and ministers of agriculture to discuss the threat of antimicrobial resistance at a meeting attended by Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, Vytenis Andriukaitis EU Commissioner Health and Food, and Maria Helena Semedo, vice-director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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