In the dilemma discussed in the April issue of In Practice, Anne Fawcett described a scenario whereby you are taking part in an one health interest group, specifigcally considering antimicrobial resistance. One of your medical colleagues in the group suggests that antimicrobial use in animals should be severely restricted (IP, April 2018, vol 40, pp 126-127). You wonder how veterinarians can use antimicrobials in an ethical way?
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ANTIMICROBIAL resistance (AMR) is a major public health and animal welfare issue. Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has warned of a post-antibiotic era (Davies and others 2013). The O’Neill report reviewed the evidence on the link between AMR in people and animals and found it ‘compelling’ (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance 2016).
It is in this context that we must consider the following policy question, informed by ethics: should antimicrobial use be restricted in animals, and if so to what extent? In the Vet Record twitter poll based on Anne Fawcett’s scenario, 48 per
cent of respondents said that there should be prohibition of antimicrobials critical for human health, together with a policy to reduce antimicrobial use. In contrast, 45 per cent of respondents said that there should be policy to reduce antimicrobial use, but no specific prohibitions. In addition, of the 56 total respondents, 4 per cent voted for no restrictions and 3 per cent voted for a prohibition of all antimicrobials in animals.
The majority of respondents (97 per cent), therefore, support a policy to reduce antimicrobial use in animals and hence recognise the significant threat of AMR. The distinction between the two larger camps essentially reflects different views about the need for regulation to prohibit antimicrobial use in order to meet the policy objective to reduce use. In this regard, and given the critical importance of antibiotics for current and future generations of people, I would be minded to side with those respondents that support the prohibition of antimicrobials that are critical to human health.
Everyday Ethics Poll
Last month’s poll asked:
Should antimicrobial (AM) use be restricted in animals, and if so to what extent?
4% of respondents said there should be no restriction
48% of respondents said AMs critical for human health should be prohibited and there should be a policy to reduce AM use
45% of respondents said there should be no specific prohibition(s) but there should be a policy to reduce AM use
3% of respondents said there should be prohibition of all AMs in animals (56 respondents)
Vote for this month’s online poll at: https://twitter.com/Vet_Record
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