MEPs vote for “restricted use” of antimicrobial drugs

The use of existing antimicrobial drugs should be restricted, according to the European Parliament’s environment and public health committee.

In a vote on Wednesday this week, concerning draft plans to update an EU law on veterinary medicines, committee members voted for a ban on the “collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals”, while also backing measures to stimulate research into new medicines.

The vote was immediately described as a “big step forward for animal health and the fight against antibiotic resistance”, by French MEP, Françoise Grossetête (pictured above), who led the committee debate.

“With these new rules, we can better circumscribe and control the use of antibiotics in farm animals and thus reduce the risk that potential resistances will emerge,” she said, adding that the move will also promote public health and consumer protection.

The committee also declared that veterinary medicines must not “under any circumstances” serve to improve performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry. In that context, MEPs advocated limiting the use of antimicrobials as a preventive measure or the use of antimicrobials for treating a group of animals when only one shows signs of infection.

In addition, MEPs urged farm animal owners and keepers to use stocks with “suitable genetic diversity, in densities that do not increase the risk of disease transmission, and to isolate sick animals from the rest of the group”.

The committee’s decision will be further debated and put to a full European Parliament vote during the March/April plenary sessions in Strasbourg.

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