Sales of antibiotics for use in animals in the UK have fallen to their lowest level since records began.

The UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report 2016, released on 27th October, shows sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals dropped by 27%, beating a government-set target by two years.

Total antibiotic sales fell from 62mg/kg in 2014 to 45mg/kg in 2016, surpassing a government target of 50mg/kg set following recommendations in the 2016 O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Sales of all the highest-priority antibiotics – considered critically important for human health – have also dropped, accounting for less than 1% of all antibiotics sold for use in animals in 2016. This includes an 83% reduction in sales of colistin.

UK CVO Nigel Gibbens said: “These results are immensely positive to see and show the combined efforts of vets and farmers to reduce antibiotic use are paying off. Vets are taking accountability for their prescribing decisions and farmers are investing in disease prevention.

“We need solidarity across the profession; no veterinary professional must offer an easy route to access antibiotics where they are not justified.

“Tackling antibiotic resistance requires a commitment across all areas of animal health, together with work on human use by colleagues in the medical professions and our work together to tackle the issue at global level.”

A task force established by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance will publish robust targets on antibiotic use to show how each farming sector will build on the progress made to date.

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