17 Feb 2020
New scientific advice issued on 28 January 2020 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on risk categorisation of antibiotics for use in animals, including those which should be restricted for use as a last resort, has been recognised by RUMA as the most appropriate categorisation for the UK farm livestock sectors – albeit with more specific advice due shortly from the UK livestock species veterinary associations.
The EMA’s Antimicrobial Advice Ad-Hoc Expert Group (AMEG) constantly reassesses the impact on human health of using different antibiotics in animals, alongside the need to treat disease in animals for health and welfare reasons within the geographical region of Europe.
The main change in the new advice is that four ‘risk’ categories of antibiotics A to D have been identified, replacing the previous three categories.
Category A ‘Avoid’ replaces category 3; these are antibiotics which are reserved for human treatment only and are not permitted for use in food-producing animals.
Category B ‘Restrict’ replaces category 2; these are commonly known as the highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs), and should be confined to use in veterinary medicine only as a last resort after sensitivity testing has been conducted, and when no other antibiotic would be clinically effective. The antibiotics in this group remain the same – namely 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, quinolones including fluoroquinolones and polymyxins, including colistin.
Category C ‘Caution’ is new, and signifies an elevated risk. Antibiotics in this category should only be used if there is no alternative lower-risk product available in Category D.
Category D ‘Prudence’ replaces category 1 as the lowest-risk group, but nonetheless advises all products should be used with prudence.
For more guidance on which products are HP-CIAs / Category B and should be used only as last resort on-farm, please refer to attached table or download the interactive HP CIA product list for food-producing animals updated 10 February 2020.