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Saturday 21 October 2017

Proposals to reduce 'off-label' use of antibiotics on farms

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to
global health, food security and development. Stock picture
The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development. Stock picture
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A new reflection paper from the European Medicines Agency recommends a reduction in the off-label use of antibiotics on farms.

Off-label use, which includes the use of a medicine in a species or a disease other than those specifically authorised and included in the product information, is a widespread practice in veterinary medicine. It is permitted under certain circumstances.

For example, owing to the great variety of veterinary species and conditions, there are often no medicines available that have been authorised to treat rarer conditions or less common species.

In this case it may be allowed to use a medicine authorised for another species or condition.

However, in the case of antimicrobials there are concerns that off-label prescription could increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

Among the recommendations in the paper is that off-label systematic preventive use of antimicrobials in groups of animals should not take place.

The reflection paper also aims to define off-label use and to better understand the underlying reasons for the practice in relation to the use of antimicrobials.

However, data on the off-label use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine in the EU is currently too limited to allow a full assessment of the impact of these prescriptions on the spread of antimicrobial resistance and the associated risks for human and animal health.

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The paper recommends measures to improve the collection of data on the off-label use of antimicrobial medicines, encourage the development of related treatment guidelines, and stimulate the development of new medicines covering a wider range of species and conditions in animals.

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