A plenary session of the EU Parliament today backed new rules to prohibit the prophylactic use of antimicrobials to single animals and only when fully justified by a veterinarian.
Antibiotics must not compensate for poor animal husbandry, argued the politicians.
Resistance to widely used antimicrobials, such as ciprofloxacin, was commonly detected in bacteria in poultry, according to a report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last month.
MEPs also gave their support to a second report amending a law to improve the marketing authorization procedure for veterinary medicinal products, which is to be decoupled from that for medicines for humans.
Both reports were approved by a show of hands.
The MEPs also voted to open negotiations with the Council, with the aim of reaching a first reading agreement on the proposals.
The proposal clearly defines the conditions under which veterinary medicine professionals are permitted to prescribe and sell antibiotics.
The overall aim of the draft law is to increase the availability of veterinary medicinal products, reduce administrative burdens, stimulate competitiveness and innovation, improve the functioning of the internal market and address the public health risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Rapporteur and French MEP, Françoise Grossetête, said the objective was not to reduce the therapeutic arsenal available to vets. “This law aims to facilitate their work. It is absolutely necessary to encourage research and innovation in this sector,” she said.
The EU farm lobby, Copa and Cogeca, said it welcomed the MEPs vote to update EU law on veterinary medicines.
However, the organization said it was somewhat concerned by some aspects of the development.
Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General, Pekka Pesonen, said: “We do not believe that a ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics is justified. The responsible use of antimicrobials is crucial and, although, we realise that there needs to be specific requirements for food producing animals compared to pets, the correct use of prophylaxis is a good veterinary practice.
We also have concerns on the online ban on antibiotics and prescription-only veterinary medicines. Online sales of veterinary medicinal products offer some advantages in terms of availability and the cost of medicines.
Indeed, considering its crucial role, Copa and Cogeca believe that the proposal should be more precise about how to ensure the correct functioning of this distribution channel and the development of a safer online system in coordination with the competent national and European authorities.”