15 March 2002

Antimicrobial sales rise seen as a warning

By Hannah Velten

THE EU ban on some antimicrobial growth promoters in June 1999 and the spread of pig wasting diseases were to blame for a rise in therapeutic antimicrobial sales during 2000, says the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

The organisations second annual report of pharmaceutical sales shows therapeutic antimicrobial sales rose to 437t in 2000 from 383t in 1999, while sales of growth promoters declined.

As expected, most sales were to the pig and poultry industry in the form of medicated feed, says the report, which adds that the voluntary ban on antimicrobial growth promoters in Denmark was accompanied by a 30% increase in therapeutic products.

Mac Johnston, head of large animals at the Royal Vet College, believes the figures are not surprising, although they should act as a stimulus for looking at alternative ways of controlling disease.

"Growth promoters were preventing a number of diseases from manifesting themselves. But rather than now relying on antibiotic use to control their clinical impact, producers should work with a vet to produce a forward-looking herd health plan covering the whole production system," he says.

He adds that subsequent VMD reports should show a drop in therapeutic product sales as many pig and poultry producers have focused on changing production systems since 2000 to reduce antibiotic use. &#42

&#8226 Increase not surprising.

&#8226 Preventative action needed.

Forward-looking health plans should be used to identify alternative ways of controlling livestock diseases, says Mac Johnston.