21 October 2016

HEALTH - Regulation of Antimicrobial Use by Canadian Veterinarians

A recently closed public consultation held by the Government of Canada is leading the country one step closer to addressing concerns surrounding the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) related to veterinary drugs.

Duane Landals of Veterinarians Without Borders has a lifetime of experience in the profession and is heavily involved with helping to devise a national strategy to address AMR concerns.

In addition to managing a clinical practice, Landals' background includes 15 years as registrar and CEO of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, as well as president of both the Alberta and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and as vice president of the World Veterinary Association for two terms.

“I’m totally involved with the AMR picture…it’s a very visible, global issue,” he said.
“But to address AMR, we have to look at antimicrobial use.”

In dealing with the absence of regulation of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in manufactured drugs and the human use of antimicrobials in animals without veterinary oversight, Health Canada initiated the public consultations that would lead to proposed regulatory changes seeking to address the growing problem of AMR in human and veterinary medicine.

The proposed changes, which are welcomed by the veterinary industry as a whole, include:
  • requirement that APIs imported or sold in Canada must adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (currently they do not)
  • required licensing for those who import, test, label, fabricate or package APIs
  • restriction of own use importation of unauthorized veterinary drugs
  • requirement that manufacturers, importers and compounders of veterinary antimicrobials provide sales volume information by species
  • and introduction of an alternative, less burdensome pathway for manufacturers to legally import and sell certain low-risk veterinary drugs, known as veterinary health products (VHPs).

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association welcomes the changes.

“We have a long history of antimicrobial use in food-producing animals,” said Landals, adding that under the new changes this would be required to be overseen by a veterinarian and would be on an as-needed basis or by prescription – a change that is also in response to public demand for food free from hormones, met with the ‘Raised with Care’ public education campaign.

Every antibiotic will become prescription-only under the new regulation, much like the Veterinary Feed Directive being implemented in the U.S. as of January 2017.

“The culture of how we use antibiotics is changing,” said Landals, making reference to the health and safety of the public. “There should be no surprise.”

Landals said one of the biggest challenges is in the development of a national policy that would lead to provincial policy changes, emphasizing “there is a disconnect” between the national and provincial levels, that working groups are trying to address.

“The biggest thing is that we need consistencies between provinces,” he said, stressing that the United Nations now refers to AMR as a “world global crisis”.

Landals said he does not believe the impact will be felt on companion animal owners.

By Lindsay Seewalt
Lindsay is an experienced journalist and mother of three whose heart and home is always open to a four-legged friend. With her Corgi, Angie, as household editor-in-chief, Lindsay gives back to the animal planet through the written word on anything and all ado about pets. She is passionate about topics regarding animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, which she aims to instill in both her readers and children to be compassionate animal lovers who are conscious and considerate that furry friends around the globe deserve a voice.

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