Attention in the Prescribing and Use of Veterinary Antimicrobials

Notice type: Advisory

Date: 03/10/2011


Product name or type:

Authorisation Number:

Target Audience:
Veterinary Practitioners, Pharmacists, Licensed Merchants and users of veterinary antimicrobial drugs.

Problem Or Issue:
Need for attention in the prescribing and use of veterinary antimicrobials to safeguard human and animal health against the development of antimicrobial resistance.

Background Information Or Related Documents:

Antimicrobial resistance is considered to be a major global public health concern and potential food safety issue.

A particular focus is on the need to preserve the usefulness of existing antimicrobial drugs classes, as only a few new chemical classes have been developed in recent years.

The EU network of medicines agencies, HMA, as well as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have developed strategic plans to address the issue (see links below).  These plans seek to provide for the continued availability of effective antimicrobials for use in animals whilst at the same time acting to minimise risks to animals or humans arising from their use.

HMA Action Plan on Antimicrobial Issues

EMA Strategy on Antimicrobials 2011-2015

The IMB is participating in efforts to preserve the effectiveness of the existing antimicrobial drugs for animal use, based on evidence-centred risk-management approaches, while safeguarding unnecessary or inappropriate use.  These efforts include the following:

  1. Ensuring that all antibacterial drugs are available only under the prescription of a veterinary practitioner.
  2. Updating the labeling and accompanying leaflets of veterinary medicinal products containing antibacterial drugs according to the scientific advice of the EMA.
  3. Monitoring the national sales of antibacterial drugs annually and reporting the date to the EMA.
  4. Participating in national and European initiatives aimed at:
    • Containing antimicrobial resistance (AMR);
    • Understanding the epidemiology of AMR;
    • Considering any new risk-management measures and their potential impact;
    • Sharing best-practices;
    • Promoting the responsible use of antibacterials;
    • Communicating with interested partied about the matter.

Attention in the Prescribing and Use of Veterinary Antimicrobials Document

Actions To Be Taken:

Veterinary practitioners are encouraged to:

Use and prescribe narrow-spectrum antimicrobials rather than broad-spectrum ones.

Ensure that fluoroquinolones, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, macrolides and lincosamides are used only according to the conditions set out in the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) and not as a first-line therapy.

Prescribe all antimicrobials responsibly and only following a careful diagnosis.  Quantities prescribed should be limited to immediate needs; the use of antimicrobials for the purposes of prevention of infection is generally not conducive to minimise resistance development.  The IMB is particularly concerned to limit the in-feed and in-water use of antimicrobials for mass medication of animals.

Provide farmers with advice on non-antimicrobial interventions that can be used for disease control e.g. the use of vaccines, husbandry measures, biosecurity etc.

Show leadership in the usage of antibacterials and in educating farmers as to the issues involved.

Report any cases of resistance or lack of efficacy to the IMB.

Farmers are encouraged to:

  • Stay informed about this topic and be prepared to change existing practices and preferences.

  • Consider the potential impact of inappropriate antimicrobial use on animal health, public health and the reputation of food exports from Ireland.

  • Explore with their veterinary practitioners strategies to control infections that minimise the need of antimicrobials.

  • Ensure that prescriptions for antimicrobials are dispensed only by authorised persons.

  • Store, use and dispose of antimicrobials according to the directions given.  Do not purchase more than your immediate needs.

  • Keep records of use of all medicines and ensure that they are available to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine inspectors.

Further Information:

Further information is available from:

European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) 

« Back