What's New ? - 2021

What's New ? - 2021

Feeding Resistance: antimicrobial stewardship in the animal health industry

29 July, 2021

70% of global antimicrobials are fed to intensively farmed livestock, accelerating the risk of widespread antimicrobial resistance. The world’s largest animal health companies are fueling the rise of superbugs and “failing to live up to responsibilities” to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a stark report has warned. The research, found that none of the largest 10 publicly listed animal health companies – which comprise roughly 40 per cent of the sector – have a comprehensive strategy to mitigate the impact of AMR.
The latest report – published by an investor network called the FAIRR Initiative examined the $47 billion animal health industry, which manufactures and sells antimicrobial treatments for the agricultural sector. It found these critical drugs are still being both misused and overused in animals. 
A particular concern is the way “shared class” antimicrobials (which are used in both animals and humans) are sold.
Scientists and regulators have called for reduced use of shared class drugs where possible, but the report warns that still antimicrobials are often “labelled for growth promotion and/or sold in large quantities – practices that promote unnecessary and excessive use”.
The report suggests none of the 10 companies analysed have responsible marketing policies for use of antimicrobials in agriculture, which is a particular problem in emerging markets where product labels can be a farmers’ only guide around when to use drugs and in what doses.
One example given is a product called Winmyco – sold by the Indian firm Zydus Cadila in 25kg bags and described as a “growth promoter” – which contains an antibiotic categorised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a high-priority drug critically important for human health.
That’s despite suggestions from the World Bank that agriculture is a “critical frontier” to tackle the rising threat of superbugs. 
Statistics from Vietnam and China from 2018 demonstrate the scale of this problem: in the Mekong data, roughly 80 per cent of total antibiotic use in animals is as a prophylaxis; while more than half of usage in China is linked to growth promotion.
The paper also notes that, amid growing awareness of the threat of AMR, disclosed lobbying expenditure by leading animal health firms has rocketed. Between 2015 and 2019, spending jumped by 86 per cent in the European Union and the US, while FAIRR believes some firms are lobbying against strengthening regulations in emerging markets.