NPA launches antibiotic stewardship programme

An antibiotic stewardship programme is being launched by the National Pig Association (NPA) to achieve “minimum use of antibiotics, consistent with responsible human and food-animal medicine”.

The programme will consist of the following six strands:

  • Capture and collate antibiotic use data recorded on pig farms.
  • Benchmark each farm’s antibiotic use against other farms of a similar type.
  • Extend education in effective disease control strategies.
  • Reduce antibiotic use, consistent with responsible human and food-animal medicine.
  • Promote veterinary prescribing principles to strictly limit the use of antibiotics of critical importance to human health.
  • Appoint Stewardship Commissars who will continually review industry’s use of antimicrobials and champion initiatives.

“We recognise and share society’s concerns about the level of antibiotic use in human and livestock medicine,” said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies (pictured above). “In particular we acknowledge the risk, albeit small, of antibiotic resistance developing in bacteria in pigs and this resistance spreading to humans.”

NPA is therefore introducing the Pig Industry Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, working in partnership with Pig Veterinary Society, AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

“Although antibiotic resistance in humans is largely caused by over-use and misuse of antibiotics in human medicine, the British pig industry has a duty to ensure it does not contribute to the problem,” said NPA senior policy adviser Dr Georgina Crayford.

“Overall sales of antibiotics for use in livestock in the UK sit mid-range compared to other European Union countries. We acknowledge the current perception that antibiotic use in our pig industry may be higher than in some other countries, but we don’t have any data to demonstrate what our actual on-farm usage is, hence the need for action.”

The programme’s first goal will be to collect “quantitative and qualitative data on current use of antibiotics in British pig husbandry”. This will be achieved through the industry’s newly-introduced online medicines book.

“When the electronic medicines book has been sufficiently populated, producers will be able to benchmark their use of antibiotics with anonymised data from other farms of the same type, and to work with their vets to drive down overall use,” said NPA.

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