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Antibiotic resistance: Defra celebrates fall in drug sales

Staff Writer |
Defra is celebrating a reduction in the sales of antibiotics for use on Britain’s farms.

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Veterinary advisors said figures released by Defra showing a 9% decrease in sales of antibiotics between 2014 and 2015 put the UK on track to meet the government’s targets to tackle antibiotic resistance.

The drop in sales (9% by weight, bringing the amount of antibiotics used in farm animals down to 56mg per kilo) puts the UK on track to reach its 50mg/kg target by 2018. Defra said there was also a drop in sales of the highest priority antibiotics in 2015.

In May, a report commissioned by the UK government warned that antibiotic resistance could be claiming a human life every three seconds by 2050, as widespread AMR would make certain diseases untreatable and mean surgeries currently considered routine would become life threatening.

Scientists behind the discovery of bacteria resistant to polymyxins (a family of antibiotics used as a last resort treatment in human medicine) in China late last year, and Europe earlier this year, put the development of resistance down to the use of antibiotics in agriculture, though farming groups and vets’ associations have sought to downplay the link.

193 countries agreed to combat the growing problem in the UN General Assembly this year, and Defra has also promised to produce long-term sector-specific reduction targets by 2017, but campaigners have called for these words to be translated into deeds.

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