Posted by Dirk Ehle
Committed to supporting European Antibiotic Awareness Day - and endorsing its principles on the other 364.
‘As little as possible, as much as necessary’: the use of antibiotics to help safeguard the health and welfare of animals should be judicious, careful and only under prescription. Because, as Dirk Ehle, Executive Vice President and President Elanco Europe, discusses, in the run-up to European Antibiotic Awareness Day on November 18, it will only be the prudent use of antibiotics which will stop resistant bacteria from developing and keep antibiotics effective for the next generation of farmers and veterinarians.
Prevention is always better than cure. So farmers and vets use good husbandry, biosecurity, diet and hygiene, alongside disease prevention programmes, to protect animal health and wellbeing.
And, of course, in domestic settings, animal owners are morally bound to care for their animals; with Europe-wide legislation requiring owners to ensure their sick animals are treated appropriately.
However, despite everyone’s best efforts, animals will succumb to disease. Which is when antibiotics play a vital role – helping to overcome illness and prevent animal suffering as well as ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply.
Leading the fight against microbial resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. It occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines: bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and these infections are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
This makes rigorous antibiotic stewardship critical – requiring a collaborative effort and commitment from key stakeholders across industries and the globe; including farmers, veterinarians, scientists and industry leaders to tackle the problem.
Elanco is dedicated to being part of the solution. In 2015, we defined our 8-point Antibiotic Stewardship Plan to ensure we are preserving the efficacy of antibiotics and find alternatives. So we have actively strengthened our R&D pipeline, meticulously refined our policies and we are championing greater innovation to protect the long-term effectiveness of antibiotics.
More specifically, in 2019, we invested nine per cent of our annual turnover in R&D to provide new and improved solutions for managing infectious diseases – pioneering prevention through vaccines, enzymes or feed additives.
In the specialised area of livestock disease prevention, we are also promoting the use of non-medicated feed additives, such as enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics, to reduce the use of conventional antibiotics.
Encouraging European-wide initiatives
Elanco is working closely with other industry stakeholders, vets and farmers’ associations, to promote the responsible use of all medicines in animals.1
So, important annual public health initiatives like the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, taking place on November 18, are crucial in raising awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of prudent antibiotic use – which is why Elanco are happy to support and promote the event.
Animal Health Europe, Our contribution, https://www.animalhealtheurope.eu/our-contribution/62-antibiotic-action.html (accessed October 2020)
NOAH, Antibiotics for animals, https://www.noah.co.uk/focus-areas/antibiotics-for-animals/ (accessed October 2020)
1 Elanco.com, Antibiotic stewardship, https://www.elanco.com/research-and-development/antibiotic-stewardship (accessed October 2020)