Antibiotics sales drop as horse vets fight resistance

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BEVA has welcomed the news that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has relaxed its recently imposed restrictions on the sale of the essential equine pain killer, flunixin by allowing the release of stock from manufacturers. This action will, in the short term, restore access to this medicine for use in non-food producing horses.
© BEVA

The horse world may be starting to win in the battle against antibiotic resistance, with sales of horse-only antibiotics falling by 13.6 tonnes (85%) since 2014, according to Britain’s lead equine veterinary body.

British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) President Tim Mair said the equine veterinary sector was committed to responsible stewardship: “Sales surveillance data shows that sales of horse-only antibiotics has fallen by 4.3 tonnes (64%) since 2017 and 13.6 tonnes (85%) since 2014.”

BEVA is staying at the forefront in the battle against antibiotic resistance in the animal world with several new initiatives released in time for European Antibiotic Awareness Day on November 18.

The association is encouraging the continued reduction of the use of critically important antibiotics, and BEVA’s official research publication The Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) has released a special collection of nine research articles ‘Antimicrobials in an age of resistance, edited by Jennifer Davis and Melissa Merca.

BEVA also launched a survey on antimicrobial use at its congress in September to find out more about antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in practice. So far, there have been 262 veterinary responses. The results are expected to provide an insight on the current frequency and types of antimicrobial-resistant infections seen by clinicians and what infection control and audit practices are in place.

This survey aims to assess any changes in the prescribing of antimicrobials in equine practice since the last survey in 2009.

The association has also added further practical elements to its “Protect Me” Toolkit online resources. This is a free resource for BEVA members, to help facilitate compliance and educate horse owners about the importance of antimicrobial awareness. On November 18, BEVA will launch three new short webinars on rational antimicrobial therapy and the need for antimicrobial stewardship. In addition a ‘No antibiotic prescription form’ has been added to the toolkit to help owners understand clearly when an antibiotic is not required.

“While antimicrobials remain essential for the health and welfare of horses suffering from bacterial infection it’s imperative for vets to protect their usage to maintain their effectiveness for the future,” BEVA President Tim Mair said.

In noting the drop in horse-only antibiotic sales, Mair said he hopes the results of the BEVA survey would “provide further optimistic data”.

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