New regulations on veterinary medicines to be introduced in the United Kingdom on April 1, 2011, will continue to allow antimicrobial products to be advertised to farmers, the UK government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate has announced.

A ban on advertising antimicrobials had been among proposals made to the government for changes to the existing rules, in light of increasing concerns about the growth of antimicrobial resistance. But the proposal brought warnings about the impact on the section of farm media for which health product advertisements represent a significant part of their income.

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The decision not to impose a ban was called disappointing by the British Veterinary Association. Its president, Harvey Locke, said it had supported restrictions on advertising as a sensible approach to the responsible use of antimicrobials. “New antimicrobials are heavily advertised by pharmaceutical companies to vets and farmers so it is vital that the message of responsible use is not lost," said Locke. “Antimicrobial resistance is a serious issue for both animal and human health and we are disappointed that the VMD is not restricting the advertising of these products to farmers. The pharmaceutical companies must now undertake to advertise responsibly.”