Sales of antibiotics for use in animals have hit a government commitment two years early.
The figures – now the lowest on record since data was first published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in 1993 – have seen a 27 per cent drop and proven agriculture’s promise to cut use in food-producing animals since 2014 and lead the way in tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
There has also been an 83 per cent drop in sales of Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort critical for human health.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said the results were ‘immensely positive’.
He said: “Vets are taking accountability for their prescribing decisions and farmers are investing in disease prevention.
“We need solidarity across the profession; no veterinary professional must offer an easy route to access antibiotics where they are not justified.
“Tackling antibiotic resistance requires a commitment across all areas of animal health, together with work on human use by colleagues in the medical professions, and our work together to tackle the issue at global level.”
A Defra report released today (October 27) shows a fall in antibiotic use in food-producing animals from 62 mg/kg in 2014 to 45 mg/kg in 2016, surpassing the government target of 50 mg/kg by 2018.
Medical officials said the result was a ‘commendable achievement’ from the agricultural and veterinary sector and championed its dedication to reduce inappropriate levels of antibiotics.
Defra Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner, added: “The fact we have overtaken our target two years ahead of schedule demonstrates our commitment to preventing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and shows our approach is working.
“Now we must continue making progress and set our sights on reducing use even further. Ambitious specific reduction targets in different sectors will be yet another positive step towards safeguarding antibiotics.”
Later today the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) will publish targets on antibiotic use for each individual farming sector.