European sales of antibiotics for use in animals fell by approximately 8 percent between 2011 and 2013, data from the latest European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial (ESVAC) group report reveals.

Of the 23 European countries that provided data over the period, 11 reported a decrease in sales of more than 5 percent, while the greatest decrease stood at 51 percent. However, six countries reported an increase in sales of more than 5 percent with the highest individual increase standing at 21 percent.

The report contains standardized sales data gathered annually on veterinary microbials by class, and is produced in cooperation with national authorities, coordinated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

“With the new sales data collected and experience gained in the process, we are getting a clearer picture of the sales of antibiotics in animals in Europe,” said David Mackay, head of the EMA’s Veterinary Medicines Division.

“As data collected through ESVAC becomes increasingly robust, we hope they can support European countries in promoting rational use of antibiotics in animals.

“Collecting accurate data on the sale and use of these medicines in food-producing animals is an essential step to inform policies for responsible use of antibiotics.”

The report, now in its fifth edition, also includes more detailed graphs and trends on sales of flouroquinolones and 3rd and 4th-generation cephalosporins, giving further information on the use in animals of some of the most critically important classes of antimicrobials for humans.

Alongside the report, ESVAC also has launched an interactive database, allowing users to access specific data and search for a specific country or sales of a particular class of antibiotic.

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New EPRUMA guide

Several publications relating to antibiotic resistance and reduction of antibiotic use have been published in Europe over recent months including the European Commission’s Guidelines for the prudent use of antimicrobials, along with Best practice framework for the use of antibiotics in food producing animals –Reaching the next level issued by the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals (EPRUMA), a broad industry coalition.

The document combines a holistic and a specific approach to help in the optimization of animal health at farm level.

If offers guidance on indoor and free-range production, housing and biosecurity, and it includes a decision tree on the use of veterinary antibiotics in food-producing animals.

As little as possible, as much as necessary

“Veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, need to be used responsibly to main their efficacy. All animal health stakeholders are committed to responsible use,” said Gwyn Jones, EPRUMA chairman.

EPRUMA, which was set up 10 years ago and whose partners include the groups European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives and the European Feed Manufacturers’ Association, works with policy- and decision-makers and concerned parties at European and national levels to promote responsible antibiotic use as part of a holistic approach to disease prevention and control and to support animal health and welfare.

Its latest publication, which builds on the group’s 2008 best practice framework document, covers all major livestock species from poultry to cattle, addressing areas including animal-specific factors affecting animal health, husbandry systems and management practices.