Roughly one year ago, Elanco Animal Health participated in the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship and also released its 8-step plan for antibiotic stewardship.

On June 16, the company dedicated its new Vaccines Innovation Center, and at the dedication, Elanco’s president talked about the company’s past, present and future commitment to doing its part to battle antibiotic resistance. So far, the company is working diligently toward meeting the goals it set out to achieve.

“Animal disease is and will continue to be a significant challenge. It’s a reality,” said Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco Animal Health. “We will continue to need antibiotics to provide appropriate health to care for animals, but they must be used responsibly to maintain their effectiveness when the needs are there.”

Elimination of growth promotion uses of shared-class antibiotics

Simmons stated that the company is doing away with all growth promotion uses of shared-class antibiotics. This is not just an initiative taking place in the U.S., but globally. Elanco announced that plan in 2015.

“We’ve committed to make this change in every country where we operate by the end of this year, and a good share of that is already done,” said Simmons.

“We are in the final stages of making the submissions necessary to remove our growth-promotion claims on 100 percent of our shared-class antibiotics. … When you come across all of the geographies and the products and species, that’s 56 label changes. [We’re] leading the industry on submission timing.”

Supporting veterinary oversight

Another of the eight steps announced a year ago was that Elanco would support veterinary oversight and responsible use of antibiotics. In 2016, Simmons said that the company has more than 60 plan submissions in the U.S., Canada and Brazil, where it is changing labels of shared-class antibiotics to require veterinary oversight.

Elanco investing heavily in developing antibiotic alternatives

While antibiotics will continue to play an important role in Elanco’s business, it is also looking to become a leader in developing antibiotic alternatives.

“In total, we’ve committed to invest two-thirds of our food animal research budget [on antibiotic alternatives] and that’s our commitment last year. In 2016, we will far exceed this,” said Simmons.

Simmons noted that the company’s goal is to deliver 10 alternative development projects into its pipeline.

Later during the Vaccines Innovation Center, Aaron Schact, Elanco vice president of global research and development, spoke of three new alternatives to shared class antibiotics, showing the progress toward meeting that goal.

The future of Elanco’s antibiotic stewardship

With all of the talk about antibiotic alternatives and antibiotic stewardship, Simmons does emphasize that antibiotics still need to have a place in veterinary medicine, and the industry must work to assure that sick animals in need of antibiotic treatments can still get them amid the popular marketing frenzy of antibiotic-free meat and poultry.

“We need to make sure that food marketing does not risk the welfare of animals and does not risk the welfare of people,” he said.

“Let me be clear, policies that require complete elimination of all antibiotics in animal production are not right for the animal, and they are not right for the consumer, or the plant, either.”

Elanco will continue to give updates on how it is meeting its antibiotic stewardship initiatives, and will host a special global antibiotic stewardship summit, September 21-22, in Washington, D.C.