Senior medics have today written to the UK Government calling on it to place public health at the heart of its farm antibiotic policies and to commit unequivocally to banning preventative antibiotic group treatments in livestock.
Read our press release, and below the full letter:
Dear Secretaries of State,
Last month the European Parliament voted by over 97% for new legislation which will ban preventative antibiotic treatments of groups of healthy animals by 2022 .
We warmly welcome this major step towards the responsible use of antibiotics in livestock. The UK Government played an active role in the drafting of the new EU regulations, and says it plans to implement them.
However, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate has indicated that its interpretation of the legislation does not include a ban on preventative group treatments. This is in contrast to statements made by the European Parliament  and by the European Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis . UK farming-industry representatives have also said that the legislation contains a ban on group prevention .
When questioned in Parliament, the Minister of State, George Eustice MP, did not endorse a ban on preventative group treatments, only acknowledging that the legislation would “restrict” preventative treatments and saying that Defra would continue to work with stakeholders on interpreting the legislation .
A failure to enforce a ban on preventative group treatments will result in the UK having some of the weakest regulatory standards for farm antibiotic use in Europe. This could seriously undermine the very welcome progress currently being made in reducing UK farm antibiotic use and negatively impact human health.
We urge your government to place public health at the heart of its farm antibiotic policies and to commit unequivocally to banning preventative antibiotic group treatments in livestock.
Dr Jonathan Leach, Joint Honorary Secretary of RCGP Council
Professor Andrew Goddard, President, Royal College of Physicians
Professor Derek Alderson, President, Royal College of Surgeons
Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Royal Society of Medicine
Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief, The British Medical Journal
Dr Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, The Lancet
Professor Ashok Soni, President, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Professor John Middleton, President, Faculty of Public Health
Professor David Galloway, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Professor Russell Viner, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Guppi Bola, Interim Director, Medact
Cóilín Nunan, Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics