11 February 2000

Selling restrictions cut Danish use of antibiotics

AGP removal, environmental

legislation and cutting use of

antibiotics are the main issues

facing Danish pig producers.

Marianne Curtis reports

USE of antibiotics in Danish pig production has halved since regulations were introduced six years ago to prevent vets from selling them.

Antibiotic resistance concerns led to introduction of the legislation, said Bent Nielsen of the Danish Vet and Food Advisory Service, speaking to UK Press on a recent visit to Denmark. "Danish vets must have a specific diagnosis before they can prescribe antibiotics, not a policy of adding them and hoping for the best."

Also, vets can only prescribe antibiotics; they must be bought through a pharmacy. "Previously, the more antibiotics vets sold, the more money they made. To reduce use, the law split prescribing from earning."

To make up for loss of income through reduced drug sales, vets pay monthly health visits to units. These visits involved evaluation of the herds health status, identifying problems, writing a report and removing left over medicines from the unit, said Dr Nielsen.

"Prescribing medicines is included as part of the fee for the health visit. A health visit will cost £40-£250 depending on sow numbers. Medicine costs are fixed by government, so pharmacies cant exploit their monopoly."

Therapeutic antibiotic use had halved since these rules were introduced in 1994, he said. "Vets, producers and pharmacists are happy with this approach. The only people concerned are drug companies."

DANISH ANTIBIOTICS

&#8226 Use halved since 1994.

&#8226 Vets cant sell them.

&#8226 Specific diagnosis required.

Not allowing vets to sell antibiotics has halved their use in Denmark, according to Bent Nielsen.