Anti-microbial Use in Animals: How to Assess the Trade-offs

Article English OPEN
Rushton, J (2015)
  • Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
  • Journal: Zoonoses and Public Health (issn: 1863-1959, vol: 62, pp: 10-21)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4440385, doi: 10.1111/zph.12193
  • Subject: public and private goods | Original Article | economics | trade-offs | Reducing Antimicrobial Usage in Agriculture and Aquaculture: Beyond Regulatory Policy. The Conference was Sponsored by the Oecd Co-Operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (Zonmw) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Whose Financial Support Made It Possible for Most of the Invited Speakers to Participate in the Conference. Guest Editors: Jaap a. Wagenaar and H. Morgan Scott | Antibiotics

Antimicrobials are widely used in preventive and curative medicine in animals. Benefits from curative use are clear – it allows sick animals to be healthy with a gain in human welfare. The case for preventive use of antimicrobials is less clear cut with debates on the value of antimicrobials as growth promoters in the intensive livestock industries. The possible benefits from the use of antimicrobials need to be balanced against their cost and the increased risk of emergence of resistance due to their use in animals. The study examines the importance of animals in society and how the role and management of animals is changing including the use of antimicrobials. It proposes an economic framework to assess the trade-offs of anti-microbial use and examines the current level of data collection and analysis of these trade-offs. An exploratory review identifies a number of weaknesses. Rarely are we consistent in the frameworks applied to the economic assessment anti-microbial use in animals, which may well be due to gaps in data or the prejudices of the analysts. There is a need for more careful data collection that would allow information on (i) which species and production systems antimicrobials are used in, (ii) what active substance of antimicrobials and the application method and (iii) what dosage rates. The species need to include companion animals as well as the farmed animals as it is still not known how important direct versus indirect spread of resistance to humans is. In addition, research is needed on pricing antimicrobials used in animals to ensure that prices reflect production and marketing costs, the fixed costs of anti-microbial development and the externalities of resistance emergence. Overall, much work is needed to provide greater guidance to policy, and such work should be informed by rigorous data collection and analysis systems.
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