An article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has questioned the validity of currently accepted guidelines for completing a course of antibiotics, as prescribed. It suggests that there is little evidence that failing to complete a prescribed antibiotic course could contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Responding to the possible implications of this article, the British Veterinary Association is cautioning against any changes to the duration or dosage of antibiotic prescriptions, until further evidence is provided to support such changes.

BVA Junior Vice President John Fishwick said:
“We’re very aware of the global threat antimicrobial resistance poses to human and animal health, and the UK veterinary profession is committed to the responsible use of antibiotics. Medicines should never be used to compensate for poor husbandry practices and routine habitual prophylactic use in healthy animals to prevent disease is a no-go.

“The article in the BMJ suggests that antibiotics should be used for as short a period as possible, and that we should move away from the concept of following a predetermined course. This may indeed be a very important advance, but it is far too early to determine how this would work in veterinary practice. We need to clearly establish the evidence supporting it.

“We support the researchers’ calls for clinical trials to determine the most effective strategies for antibiotic treatment. Until further studies are conducted, it is too early to change the way we prescribe medicines and vets should continue to prescribe as previously, only when necessary. It is also vital that clients continue to follow the directions given by their vets, both in terms of dosage and duration of treatment, carefully.”

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