RCVS Knowledge ready to support professions on antimicrobial stewardship as new Veterinary Medicines Regulations come into effect

Veterinary charity RCVS Knowledge is ready to support the veterinary professions to navigate the biggest change in veterinary medicines legislation in over a decade.

The charity welcomes the updated Veterinary Medicines Regulations (2024) as a positive step that will help to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The revised regulations include new measures to increase restrictions on the routine use of antibiotics and antibiotics administered via feed.  

Fiona Lovatt, Farm Vet Champions Clinical Lead at RCVS Knowledge, said: “I am pleased that the new rules give clear guidance on the use of prophylactic antibiotics that allow teams to focus on animal welfare and good farm husbandry practices, while ensuring responsible antimicrobial stewardship.

“The requirement to provide antibiotic use data when requested ties into support that we are already providing to the farm vet community. Data can help us understand how antibiotics are being used and inform decision making on responsible use. As part of our Farm Vet Champions initiative and with support from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, we are encouraging farm practices to create SMART goals to help clients upload their flock and herd medicine data onto Medicine Hub.” 

RCVS Knowledge offers a suite of free resources that will help veterinary teams navigate the new rules. The charity’s AMR Hub contains practical tools, free CPD, and the latest evidence, all of which can help you use antibiotics responsibly.

Companion animal teams can:

  • Become an ‘Antibiotic Guardian’ by completing the free CPD modules on the RCVS Knowledge online learning platform, covering antimicrobial stewardship and clinical decision making. This training – open to both clinical and non-clinical team members – will give you the practical knowledge and confidence to become a leader on good antimicrobial stewardship within your practice.
  • Learn about improvements other practices have made by reading the case examples from the RCVS Knowledge Antimicrobial Stewardship Champions.
  • Get in touch with RCVS Knowledge if you need help with monitoring your antibiotic use.

Equine teams can:

Farm teams can:

Fergus Allerton, Clinical Lead for Medicines at RCVS Knowledge, said: “At their core, the Veterinary Medicines Regulations oblige veterinary professionals to display good antimicrobial stewardship. At RCVS Knowledge, we have plenty of free resources that can help you learn how to become a leader in antimicrobial stewardship within your practice.

“I would also recommend getting to grips with the reporting of your own antibiotic data. Data reporting will become mandatory by 2030 in many EU countries, and so is a good habit to get into.” 

The new Veterinary Medicines Regulations came into force on 17 May 2024, making changes to the law on antibiotic prescribing in practice. Government guidance on the updated legislation states that, “subject to the professional obligations of a veterinary surgeon to ensure the health and welfare of animals under their care,” antibiotics may not be used:

  • “Routinely”
  • “To compensate for poor hygiene, inadequate husbandry, or poor farm management practices”
  • “To promote growth or increase yield”
  • For “prophylactic purposes” (including in-feed), except for in “exceptional circumstances”

If an antibiotic is prescribed for prophylactic purposes to a group of animals, then a “management review” needs to be carried out to “identify factors and implement measures” for the purpose of “eliminating the need for any future such administration.”

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate guidance on the interpretation of the new AMR provisions can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/antimicrobial-resistance-clarification-of-new-elements-applied-from-the-vmr.

It has been a significant month for AMR in the UK, with these changes being published just one week after the UK Government released its new 5-year National Action Plan on confronting antimicrobial resistance at a national level across human health, animal health, agriculture and the environment.

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