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How we measure antibiotic use

For the past 15 years the VMD has collected, collated and published figures on UK sales volumes of active antimicrobial ingredients in products authorised for use in animals. These reports were based on sales data provided voluntarily by the veterinary pharmaceutical companies from 1998-2004. Data from 2005 onwards have been collected as a statutory requirement, as set out in the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

By understanding when and where veterinary antibiotics are being used we can assess whether this use is appropriate. Analysis of sales data permits us to track trends in use of antibiotics in food and companion animals. This is based on the assumption that there is a reasonable link between the amount of antibiotics sold and the amount actually used. However, sales data do not permit more detailed analyses, for example of the consumption of antibiotic by animal species or production class. In addition sales data will always represent the maximum amount of antibiotic that could have been used in the UK, therefore overestimating the amount actually used, given that a proportion of antibiotics sold will be wasted or discarded.

The need to strengthen the collection of antibiotic use data within the veterinary field is highlighted within the new UK cross government AMR strategy. Effective interventions that can achieve our objective of minimising the development of AMR in animals, and therefore minimising risk to human and animal health, are dependent on developing an accurate and reliable evidence base. Accordingly the VMD is currently exploring ways to strengthen the method by which we collect data on veterinary antibiotic consumption in the UK.

UK Sales Data Annual Reports:

European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC):

Since antibiotic resistance is a global issue, it is important that we make sure that the data we collect are comparable to that collected in other countries, to maximise the information we can gain from analysing these data. The European Medicines Agency developed the ESVAC project as a harmonised approach for the collection and reporting of data based on national sales figures. The UK has participated in ESVAC since it was established in 2008, and submits data annually for inclusion in the ESVAC report. There are now a total of 25 EU countries that submit sales data to ESVAC, and a number of Member States also publish their own detailed national sales data, or consumption data, reports, some of which are below. 

Antimicrobial Sales Data Related Sites:



Last Updated: 18 November 2013

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