New RUMA group geared to underpin fact-based medicines debate

A new independent scientific group, set up to advise RUMA, (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance), has met for the first time with the united aim of underpinning the organisation’s “fact-based” approach to animal health and welfare.

The six-member group, which covers all areas of human and animal medicine, agreed to advise RUMA on technical developments, help maintain a scientific basis in all of RUMA’s work while also providing independent expert voices on responsible use of medicines in farm animals.

RUMA vice chair, Catherine McLaughlin, who heads the new group, said she hoped it will bring factual evidence and science to the issues surrounding animal medicines, particularly antibiotic resistance, adding that the current debate was often “dominated by biased soundbites and myth”.

“The members of the Group are all eminent specialists in their own right in fields related to responsible use of medicines in both human and animal medicine,” she said. “Between them, they cover a wide range of specialisms and their reason for getting involved is a common desire to encourage balanced debate and prompt the right actions, while ensuring animal welfare is protected.

“We look forward to some really healthy challenges from the group on RUMA’s strategy and scientific position going forward. It’s also very positive that the Group has agreed to act as spokespeople on these issues, putting forward their own findings and views and well as any consensus they develop.”

Group members are:

  • Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction at University of Bristol (deputised by Dr Kristen Reyher, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science at University of Bristol);
  • Dr Ian Brown, Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs;
  • Mr David Burch, veterinarian and consultant specialising in pig medicine and retired Lecturer in Pig Medicine at Liverpool University’s Veterinary School;
  • Professor Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Kingston University;
  • Mr Daniel Parker, avian expert for UK government, technical advisor to the British Poultry Council and lecturer at Cambridge University Veterinary School;
  • Mr Martin Smith, Veterinary Senior Manager with AHDB.

The group will meet every three months and convene, by conference call, in between. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate will act as an observer with the group.

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