Industry Pulls Together to Define Antimicrobial Stewardship, Ensure Essential Drugs Remain AvailableFri, 21 Sep 2018 10:24:34 CDT
In an effort to more closely monitor the use of antimicrobial drugs in production agriculture, especially in feed, the Food & Drug Administration initiated last year the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). According to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Chief Veterinarian Dr. Kathy Simmons, antimicrobial stewardship has become a major issue in both animal and human medicine. She told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays recently that all parties concerned are working together to define exactly what good stewardship look like.
“We have been working as an industry for years on this. We realize that antimicrobials are a very important tool to prevent, control and treat disease in our cattle and we want to be able to ensure that we can continue to use them,” she said. “So, we are certainly engaged in these conversations. We are engaged in them domestically with the agencies, with the USDA, the FDA. We are engaged in surveillance projects on antimicrobial use. We are also engaged at the international level with the World Organization for Animal Health to ensure that food safety is considered in the discussion.”
Simmons says NCBA’s guidelines have been a part of the industry’s Beef Quality Assurance program for some time, as part of the program’s curriculum to help educate producers on the appropriate and responsible care of their livestock. As the industry continues to work towards improving its own methods and goal of more judicious use of antibiotics, Simmons says the important thing moving forward is not to totally eliminate antimicrobial drugs - which she insists are still absolutely necessary to maintaining healthy livestock populations. But, says that case of necessity should be emphasized.
“I think a really important concept in use there, is something we can continue to stress with FDA in which they continue to back us up on and that is the need to have the medically important antimicrobial drugs available for both prevention, control and treatment of animal diseases,” she said. “We feel that prevention and control are major aspects of the therapeutic process that help to ensure a safe food supply and to enhance public health.”
Simmons added that a five-year plan is expected to be published soon that addresses antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The plan will incorporate a holistic “one-health” approach built off of the existing VFD framework that will govern certain aspects of antimicrobial dispensation focused on human use, veterinarian use and environmental impact. Simmons says this will be yet another tool used to steer the industry towards practices of heightened antimicrobial stewardship.
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