Monday, 8 July 2013

Germany moves to restrict antibiotics in livestock

The press release is over a year old, but agreement by the Bundestag came on 5th July 2013

It is interesting to see that surveillance and control is tilted towards the conspicuous users, which obviously implies the larger holdings, and that veterinarians will have to supply information on their prescribing, as a matter of law.

It comes down to transparency and common sense: things that have been sadly lacking in Britain, where secrecy and cover-ups still reign.

German Government Media Release in English here

Press release no. 37 from 08.02.12

Use of Antibiotics in Agriculture: Conspicuous Holdings to Face Stronger Surveillance

Federal Government plans to continue to strengthen the powers of Länder authorities

To reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock farming, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture plans to further extend the powers of the competent Länder surveillance authorities.

The use of antibiotics in livestock farming is to be restricted to what is absolutely necessary, Source: BLE

According to the information disclosed by the Federal Ministry in Berlin on Wednesday, holdings which use disproportionately high levels of antibiotics will not only face stronger surveillance in the future; the competent authorities will also be empowered to oblige holdings that use a conspicuously high number of drugs to submit a farm-specific minimisation plan. The root causes for the excessive use of antibiotics are frequently fundamental hygiene problems or management errors, which can thus be addressed and remedied in a
targeted manner.

Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner stated: "We need to improve the husbandry conditions of farm animals in order to reduce disease pressure and infection risks for the animals". "Holdings which use conspicuously large quantities of antibiotics need to face tighter surveillance. In addition, livestock keepers need to be required in these cases to take specific action to improve animal health." Aigner thus also supports an initiative taken by the Land of Lower Saxony, which provides for an "action plan aimed at continuously minimising the use of antibiotics in livestock farming and at reducing the risk
of the emergence of antibiotic resistance.” "We need to rally behind the common goal of restricting the use of antibiotics in livestock farming to what is absolutely necessary," Aigner emphasised. The Minister stated that it was necessary to monitor conspicuous holdings more closely to prevent drug abuse. Aigner confirmed that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and the preventive use of antibiotics were both banned.

To lay the foundation for the initiation and implementation of farm-specific minimisation schemes, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture intends to consult with the Länder shortly. To recognise irregularities in the use of antibiotics more quickly and to establish legally secure benchmarks, authorities need to have quick access to the holdings’ documentation of the medication given. The talks with the Länder will focus on how this access to data can be established in an unbureaucratic, effective and legally secure manner.

As has already been reported, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is preparing a comprehensive amendment of the German Drug Act (AMG), in order to continue to tighten the legal provisions this year. Thus the Länder surveillance authorities will, for monitoring purposes, be given broader access to the data on the quantities of antibiotics that have been dispensed; this will also facilitate better planning of the
surveillance. Moreover, upon request by the surveillance authorities, veterinarians will be required to transmit a summary of all data regarding the sale and administration of antibiotics. This will make the surveillance work much easier and will simplify and speed up controls. It is planned to drastically restrict the possibility of the off-label use of antibiotics that are also of great importance in human medicine. This would mean that in future medicinal products for human use would only be able to be used as veterinary drugs, i.e. beyond the scope of their authorisation, under special conditions. In addition, the exchange of information between authorities will be significantly improved: It will be made compulsory for authorities that monitor establishments, for instance with regard to animal welfare and food hygiene, to pass on any data and findings that suggest there has been an infringement of the medicinal regulations to the bodies responsible for the monitoring of veterinary drugs.