There’s much in the press about antibiotic resistance and rightly so. Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to modern medicine with estimates suggesting it could be responsible for ten million deaths per year by 2050 and cost the global economy $ 100 trillion(1).
Defra, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, have reported a fall in sales of antibiotics for use in animals of 27% since 2014 which means their commitment to the UK Government has been met 2 years early.
This is an important step in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Although the biggest threat to human medicine is the mis-use of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria originating in animals are contributory factors.(2)
Defra Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner, welcomed the report’s findings:
“The UK is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle antibiotic resistance. The fact we have overtaken our target two years ahead of schedule demonstrates our commitment to preventing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and shows our approach is working.
Our farmers and vets must be commended for setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow, upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics available for future generations.
Now we must continue making progress and set our sights on reducing use even further. Ambitious specific reduction targets in different sectors will be yet another positive step towards safeguarding antibiotics.”
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said:
“Drug resistant superbugs are not just a problem confined to human health—it is an issue that spans humans, animals and the environment, so we must take a One Health approach to address it. If we act in isolation, we will fail.
This is a commendable achievement from our agricultural and veterinary sector to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics. It shows the entire world what can be done when we join forces and work with focus and passion.
But we cannot rest on our laurels. This progress demonstrates the commitment is there, but we need to build on this momentum and continue to do more, in every sector, and in every country, to stay ahead of superbugs.”